June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
Educational Research and Methods
13.474.1 - 13.474.11
Effects of Supplemental Learning Opportunities Designed to Engage Different Learning Styles
We provided a series of one-hour supplemental learning opportunities (SLOs) outside of, but coordinated with, a sophomore-level engineering problem-solving course. The SLOs were designed to engage different aspects of active/real-world learning style preferences by adopting one of two approaches: 1) a structured and engaging classroom lecture environment with on- paper, problem-solving exercises, or 2) a hands-on, kinesthetically-active laboratory environment with integrated on-paper, problem-solving exercises. Pre- and post-SLO assessments revealed that students learned from both types of SLOs. Analysis of course exam grades revealed that students who attended one type of SLO did not consistently outperform students who attended the other type of SLO. Students whose preferences for sensory learning (as indicated by their scores on the Index of Learning Styles) were most strongly matched by the style of their SLO group (i.e., strongest sensory preferences attending kinesthetically active SLOs, and least sensory preferences attending classroom active SLOs) performed better on course exams than students with moderate sensory learning preferences attending either SLO group, and better than students whose preferences for sensory learning were least matched by the style of their SLO group. In some cases, the observed performance differences were statistically significant, although the mean grade point averages of students in the strongest, moderate, and least-matched groups were not statistically significant. Further analysis should help reveal to what degree student performance was related to learning style and SLO style match as opposed to other factors.
The idea of using varied teaching styles in order to engage multiple learning styles in order to improve student learning is firmly grounded in theory1, 2, and has caused us to consider carefully how we teach ES201 (“Conservation and Accounting Principles”), the foundational engineering course at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. This course teaches a systems, modeling, and accounting approach to engineering problem-solving, and so emphasizes both mathematical skills and physical insight. Because the course has no hands-on laboratory component, we wondered if there were ways to help our students better gain the physical insights embedded in the course learning objectives. We also wondered if we were adequately engaging the learning styles of students who learn best by actively doing real-world things.
The literature generally supports the idea that using various forms of active learning will increase student engagement and promote learning (for an overview, see reference 3, for a representative study, see references 4 and 5). Just as there are many instructional approaches that can be considered “active learning” (see reference 3), there are many inventories of learning styles that address various aspects of the broad term “active learning.” For example, the VARK guide to learning styles6, 7 describes a broad “Kinesthetic” learning style as the style of someone who prefers to learn from experience or practice; someone who focuses on real-world things. The Index of Learning Styles (ILS)8, 9 system separately considers preference for “Active” learning, or learning by actively doing things (as opposed to “Reflective” learning, in which someone
Dee, K. C., & White, A., & Livesay, G., & Cornwell, P., & Richards, D. (2008, June), Effects Of Supplemental Learning Opportunities Designed To Engage Different Learning Styles Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3725
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