Individual learning style preferences: A generational comparison in beginning education classes in selected Arizona community colleges
The purpose of this mixed method study was to determine if Arizona community college students from the three most recent generational cohorts (N = 305) exhibited different learning styles based on Kolb's Learning Styles Inventory 3.1 survey. A secondary purpose was to determine if Arizona community college instructors teaching education classes (N = 5) recognized and attempted to teach to different learning styles.
The population for the quantitative portion of this study was limited to Arizona community college education students. The qualitative portion of this study added to the quantitative data as five Arizona community college instructors were interviewed for their perspectives on learning styles, and their attempts, if any, to incorporate varied instructional strategies in the classroom in order to reach all students in their preferred learning styles.
Chi-square tests for independence were used to analyze the differences in preferred learning style distributions among and between the generations. One-way ANOVAs were used to analyze differences among and between the generations with regards to placement on Kolb's Abstract Conceptualization-Concrete Experience and the Active Experimentation-Reflective Observation scales. A two-factor ANOVA was used to determine if differences existed between genders from a generational standpoint on these same scales.
The quantitative results indicated a significant difference in preferred learning style distributions between Generation X and the Millennial Generation. A significant difference was also found among and between the generations regarding placement on the AC-CE scale but no difference was found for the AE-RO scale. Gender was found to have an impact on learning style preferences, but not from a generational perspective. The qualitative results indicated that Arizona community college education instructors understood the concept of learning styles and most believed that students benefited when presentation of new material was varied in order to reach all students. This information is important to current and future community college instructors as they investigate possible benefits to students by inclusion of an instructional methodology based on learning styles.
0530: Teacher education
0745: Higher education