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© 2003, University of Glamorgan Learning to learn? A report on a longitudinal study of the learning styles of computing undergraduates Dave W Farthing & Dr Geneen Stubbs University of Glamorgan, UK
© 2003, University of Glamorgan An interim report This is a three-year longitudinal project seeking to identify the learning styles of students enrolled on our BSc Computing Scheme Current progress Completed two years, about to start third year Compared results from a Stage 1 group with the same students results at beginning of Stage 2 Results from 62 at Stage 1, 57 at Stage 2, 44 both sets Also looked at two successive Stage 1 groups Results from 62 in 2001, 126 in 2002
© 2003, University of Glamorgan Original intentions Information on learning styles can be fed back to lecturers to guide practice in class and preparation of new distance learning material To confirm that students learning styles improve as they progress through H.E. Hoping to discover what kinds of learning style tends to produce stronger results, and what tends to produce weaker results N.B. Our objectives are evolving Will explain this later
© 2003, University of Glamorgan Honey & Mumford LSQ Honey & Mumford devised a four dimensional inventory of learning styles Activists – like to participate, welcome new challenges and experiences Reflectors – like to think about things before taking action Theorists – like to see how things fit into an overall pattern, logical and objective Pragmatists – like to see how things work in practice, enjoy experimenting We chose H & M because of Pragmatist relevance to practical subject like computing
© 2003, University of Glamorgan Honey & Mumford LSQ The Learning Style Questionnaire (LSQ) has eighty true/false questions about the subjects behavioural preferences A quarter of the questions test a preference for the Activist style, a quarter test the Reflector style, and so on Each subject gets a score on the scale 0 – 20 for each style The scores are normalised to 5=very strong, 4=strong, 3=moderate, 2=low and 1=very low
© 2003, University of Glamorgan Honey & Mumford LSQ Commonly people exhibit a preference for certain ways of learning e.g. a strong Activist score Some people exhibit no preference, no weaknesses they have an even profile It is entirely feasible for someone to score high or even very high in all four dimensions H&M claim they should be adaptable to many kinds of learning situation H&M suggest that the higher & more even the profile, the better the performance This is what we meant by improve
© 2003, University of Glamorgan Hypothesis What we expected Students with stronger profiles should achieve better academic results We assumed that most students profiles would improve over time, that is higher scores across the four dimensions especially improvement in their weakest dimension(s) i.e. higher and/or more even profile, which should result in them being more able to adapt to different learning situations
© 2003, University of Glamorgan What we found Overall, profiles did not improve during their first year (from beginning of Stage 1 to Stage 2) 19 students improved 5 saw no significant change 20 students exhibited lower scores and/or a less even profile Profiles did not correlate with performance Individual profiles did not correlate with their overall performance that year No elements (dimensions) of the profiles correlated with any one modules results
© 2003, University of Glamorgan Example: Theorist score reduced 1 = very low 5 = very strong
© 2003, University of Glamorgan Example: Arithmetic mean same. Geometric mean slightly lower 1 = very low 5 = very strong Stage 1 scored Arithmetic mean 3.5. Geometric mean Stage 2 scored Arithmetic mean 3.5! Geometric mean Demonstrates that geometric mean rewards a more even profile.
© 2003, University of Glamorgan Relationships Do the profiles predict good and bad academic performances? Did good and bad performances result from strong and weak learning style profiles?
© 2003, University of Glamorgan Strong and weak profiles Do the profile predict good and bad academic performances? We looked at the strongest and weakest profiles…
© 2003, University of Glamorgan Example: Should be top performer! 1 = very low 5 = very strong Only middling results: 7 x C grades, 1 x B, 2 x A.
© 2003, University of Glamorgan Example: Badly weakened profile 1 = very low 5 = very strong Wide variety of grades, from 3 x A grades to 2 x D grades. Had studied International Foundation Year – good staff/student ratio. Possibly entered Stage 1 with confidence, but had to fit into mass education.
© 2003, University of Glamorgan Good and bad performance Did they result from strong and weak learning style profiles? We looked at the best and worst academic results…
© 2003, University of Glamorgan Example: Unremarkable profile 1 = very low 5 = very strong One of our top performers that year. 8 x A grades, 2 x B grades.
© 2003, University of Glamorgan Example: Weakening profile 1 = very low 5 = very strong Another good performer. 7 x A grades, 3 x B grades.
© 2003, University of Glamorgan Weakest students Significant result! The weakest students failed to submit both LSQs We looked for the LSQs for all of our lowest performing students, but they failed to submit either one or both of them Not so surprising since the weakest are less likely to progress to Stage 2
© 2003, University of Glamorgan Conclusion A learning style profile cannot predict performance E.g. Pragmatic learning style does not ensure a good result in a pragmatic subject such as programming LSQ does not take into account aptitude for the subject maturity and approach to study peer influences financial and domestic problems With no intervention on our part, students did not appear to improve their learning style profiles during the first year Learning styles profiles not consistent year on year
© 2003, University of Glamorgan Remember this? What we expected Students with stronger profiles should achieve better academic results We assumed that most students profiles would improve over time, that is higher scores across the four dimensions especially improvement in their weakest dimension(s) i.e. higher and/or more even profile, which should result in them being more able to adapt to different learning situations
© 2003, University of Glamorgan Revised intentions To confirm whether Honey & Mumford LSQ is a poor measure of learning ability and a poor predictor of academic performance The effect of intervention on poor profiles E.g. helping students with weaknesses on some dimensions, using other facilities in Blackboard To compare the profiles of staff with students To investigate whether any other learning style inventories give better results New research student to help with this
© 2003, University of Glamorgan Thank you Dave W Farthing & Dr Geneen Stubbs University of Glamorgan, UK
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