June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
Educational Research and Methods
12.137.1 - 12.137.14
A Qualitative Analysis of Engineering Students’ Interactions with an Online Learning Object in the Context of their Learning Styles
Malgorzata S. Zywno and Mary F. Stewart
This is last in a series of three papers reporting on the results of a research project looking into differences in interactions of engineering students with a learning object. The object in question was a set of interactive online tutorials in introductory Process Control. The research project investigated the effectiveness of this learning tool and identified behavior patterns of engineering students with different learning styles that may affect their learning. The first paper in the series described a collaborative effort involved in developing the award-winning set of online tutorials. The second paper focused on the quantitative analysis of the volunteers’ results, including distributions of learning styles, pre- and post-test scores, and the breakdown of learning gains according to Bloom’s Taxonomy. This concluding paper focuses on the analysis of individual sessions where screen activity was videotaped and the volunteers commented aloud on their thought processes and choices as they navigated their way through the tutorials.
The work of Richard Felder, 2, an acknowledged authority on engineering education, points to a mismatch between learning styles of engineering students and the styles of instruction commonly used in engineering departments. Felder asserts that teaching in a style that is consistently not supportive of the majority of learners may result in poor achievement, increased dropout rates and a loss of diversity among future engineers that would greatly benefit the profession. He suggests a balanced teaching style addressing a wide range of learner preferences as most effective1, 2. In 1988 Felder developed, with help of psychologist Linda Silverman, a learning model that focuses on aspects of learning styles particularly significant in engineering education2, 3 . The model classifies characteristics of the learners along four bipolar dimensions: Perception (Sensing-Intuitive), Input (Visual-Verbal), Processing (Active-Reflective) and Understanding (Sequential-Global). The Felder-Soloman Index of Learning Styles (ILS), a psychometric instrument associated with the model, is freely available online4.
Multimedia and the Internet bring about a potential for dynamic visualizations of engineering concepts, interactivity and asynchronous communications. When implemented in the context of
Zywno, M., & Stewart, M. F. (2007, June), A Summary Analysis Of Engineering Students' Interactions With An Online Learning Object In The Context Of Their Learning Styles Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2378
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