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Why Bother Learning About Learning Styles And Psychological Types?

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2000 Annual Conference


St. Louis, Missouri

Publication Date

June 18, 2000

Start Date

June 18, 2000

End Date

June 21, 2000



Page Count


Page Numbers

5.727.1 - 5.727.18



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Teresa Larkin-Hein

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Dan Budny

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

Session 3280

Why Bother Learning about Learning Styles and Psychological Types?

Teresa Larkin-Hein/Dan D. Budny American University/University of Pittsburgh Washington, DC/Pittsburgh, PA


A growing body of research suggests that increased learning gains can be achieved with adult learners when instruction is designed with learning styles in mind 1 - 3. The adoption of any type of new teaching and/or learning approach has the potential to require a good deal of valuable faculty time and energy. In this paper, the question of why science and engineering faculty should learn about learning styles and psychological types will be addressed. A brief overview of two learning style models and assessment instruments will be presented. These learning style models are: The Dunn and Dunn Model and the Kolb Model. These models will be compared and contrasted in terms of their usefulness and application both inside and outside of the classroom. A comparison will also be made between these learning style models and one well- known application that has been developed to assess psychological type. To this end, the Myers- Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) will be described.

I. Introduction

Several practitioners within the domains of science and engineering education have noted the importance of embedding a learning style approach within a variety of teaching strategies 4 – 13. Still others have looked at applications of psychological (personality) types within these as well as other educational domains 14 – 18. In this paper, the research base on learning styles and psychological types will be outlined.

Additional emphasis will be placed on the critical role that these approaches can play in terms of Science, Mathematics, Engineering, and Technology (SMET) education. Specific examples of teaching and learning strategies that utilize these approaches and that have been designed for use in the science and engineering classroom will be shared. Central to each strategy is the fact that when students’ individual style and/or type preferences are accommodated, their motivation to learn increases. When students are more motivated to learn, the potential exists for enhanced learning and increased learning gains to occur.

II. What is a Learning Style?

Learning style is a biologically and developmentally imposed set of personal characteristics that make the same teaching (and learning) methods effective for some and ineffective for others 19. Dunn 20 described learning style as the way each learner begins to concentrate, process, and retain new and difficult information. She also highlighted that “To identify and assess a person’s learning style it is important to examine each individual’s multidimensional characteristics in

Larkin-Hein, T., & Budny, D. (2000, June), Why Bother Learning About Learning Styles And Psychological Types? Paper presented at 2000 Annual Conference, St. Louis, Missouri. 10.18260/1-2--8851

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