Publication Date

Summer 2017

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Dr. Steven R. Wininger (Director), Dr. Antony Norman, and Dr. Jenni Redifer

Degree Program

Department of Psychology

Degree Type

Specialist in Education

Abstract

The implementation of learning styles models in the classroom remains a heavily debated topic in education. Notable problems with utilization of learning styles in the classroom include a lack of empirical research support and potential maladaptive effects on student learning and motivation. The primary research questions focused on the presence and quantity of learning styles discussion in the text, which definitions, models, and recommendations were presented, and which of the cited references were based on empirical data. The answers to these questions were compared between educational psychology and introduction to education textbooks. A content analysis of introduction to education (n = 10) and educational psychology (n = 10) textbooks was conducted. Eighty percent of the textbooks included a discussion of learning styles. Half of the textbooks defined learning style as a preference or approach and the other half as an individual process or style. One-fourth of the textbooks recommended matching instructional methods to learning styles. One comparison of text types, the number of empirical references cited in the text, was statistically significant. Given that most textbooks do not recommend matching instructional methods to learning styles, future research should examine the source of teachers’ beliefs that student learning is improved with the matching of learning styles to teaching approach.

Disciplines

Child Psychology | Cognitive Psychology | Educational Psychology | Teacher Education and Professional Development