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Cognitive Style And Learning Preferences In Engineering Undergraduates

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

Learning Styles

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.298.1 - 7.298.19



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Paper Authors

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Philip Parker

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

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Session 2430

Cognitive Style and Learning Preferences in Engineering Undergraduates

Kathryn W. Jablokow

Department of Mechanical Engineering Pennsylvania State University

Philip J. Parker

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering University of Wisconsin-Platteville


This paper describes a preliminary investigation of the relationships between cognitive style and learning preferences among undergraduate engineering students. Cognitive style is defined as the strategic, stable, characteristic, preferred manner in which people respond to and seek to bring about change, including the solution of problems. It is a dimension of personality that does not change over time. Learning preferences refer to the different ways our students access, process, and express information within the classroom setting. In this research, correlations between these fundamental concepts are explored to help us better understand our students and their learning needs. In addition to a full report of the research findings thus far, this paper also includes a brief summary of relevant cognitive style theory, a detailed description of the assessment instruments and methodology used, and lessons learned for future research.

1.0 Introduction

While cognitive issues have always existed in engineering education, the scholarly application of psychological principles by engineering educators themselves is relatively recent. This joint study between the University of Wisconsin-Platteville and Pennsylvania State University-Great Valley was initiated in Summer/Fall 2001 to support the on-going interest in the integration of cognitive style research into the engineering classroom. In particular, the cognitive styles of 44 undergraduate students enrolled in an Introduction to Environmental Engineering course were assessed using the Kirton Adaption-Innovation (KAI) Inventory3,6. The students’ cognitive styles were then correlated to various learning preferences using the results of survey questions and an evaluation of their effectiveness at writing-to-learn exercises. Although this research is exploratory and still in its early stages, the results suggest some interesting conclusions for engineering educators.

Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright 2002, American Society for Engineering Education

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Parker, P. (2002, June), Cognitive Style And Learning Preferences In Engineering Undergraduates Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--10553

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