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Gender Differences In The Learning Preferences Of Engineering Students

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1997 Annual Conference


Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Publication Date

June 15, 1997

Start Date

June 15, 1997

End Date

June 18, 1997



Page Count


Page Numbers

2.212.1 - 2.212.7



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Peter A. Rosati

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

Gender Differences in the Learning Preferences of Engineering Students

P.A. Rosati The University of Western Ontario


The results are compared of the responses of female and male engineering students to an Index of Learning Styles. This self-report forced-choice instrument classifies the learning preferences of the respondents on four scales; Active/Reflective, Sensing/Intuition, Visual/Verbal and Sequential/Global. Both male and female students showed a clear preference for Active, Sensing, Visual, Sequential learning. However, the female students’ learning preferences were significantly more Reflective, Verbal and Sequential than the males’. The teaching and presentation of most engineering courses would be more effective for the majority of students if they contained elements which appealed to all learning styles, which, these results suggest would require them to incorporate and emphasise more Active, Sensing, Visual and Global components.

1. Introduction

Student learning styles are frequently modelled along dichotomous dimensions such as active/reflective, right-brained/left-brained or sensing/intuition. These dimensions, well described in the literature’, represent continuous scales and an individual student might report his preference for one pole as strong or weak. Teaching approaches that address a variety of learning styles are more likely to be effective than those that emphasise fewer or perhaps only one style.

The Index of Learning Styles (ILS) is an instrument created and currently being developed2*3v4 by Soloman and Felder to assess positions on four of these learning style dimensions. The ILS is the first draft of a research instrument, as yet unvalidated, which consists of twenty- eight forced-choice questions and which classifies the student’s responses on the four scales: active/reflective, sensing/intuition, visual/verbal and sequential/global. The active/reflective scale derives from Kolb’s learning sty@ model and is closely related to Jung’s extravert/introvert dimension as described by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)6. The sensing/intuition ILS scale also parallels the similar MBTI dimension and attempts to classify for the educational preference what the MBTI does for the personality preference.

The results described in this paper are the ILS responses from two groups of engineering students from The University of Western Ontario (UWO). The first-year group of students (408 males and 87 females) completed the ILS at the beginning of their program in October (1992 and 1993) and the senior students (284 males and 48 females, most of them in their fourth year) completed the ILS in March (1994, 1995 and 1996) towards the end of their

Rosati, P. A. (1997, June), Gender Differences In The Learning Preferences Of Engineering Students Paper presented at 1997 Annual Conference, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 10.18260/1-2--6588

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