The Discourse on Learning Styles in Online Education

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Abstract

In this case study, we assessed the effects of learning styles in online education and how they impact students’ academic success based on gender. Online learning is a contemporary concept in which ideas, models and traditional teachings have changed. Since learning styles are controverted and the existence of the latest research has been undermined, we examined how learning style affects the learners ' academic achievements in online lessons and gender-specific environments. However, many learners still think that learning styles are valid and that they can adapt their solutions to these learning styles externally. This research investigates whether VARK styles are associated to course results, regardless of the actual VARK results, and whether any study techniques are associated with course results. The results indicate that almost all students did not report on research approaches after their VARK assessment and that the students ' achievement is not associated with their results in each VARK category. This research provides additional evidence that the usual knowledge of teaching styles should especially be redefined for Online classes where the styles corresponding to the willingness of learners are more difficult to be defined.

Introduction

The continual increase in the number of courses and programs on distance learning had an intensive impact on learning and teaching views and ideas. Distance education is a system of teaching that allows students to engage in studying without being physically located near the same place as the lecturer. The use of internet-based coursework is becoming an integral method of teaching in distance education, especially in higher education. The growing number of attendees, the courses and the accessibility of distance education refer to the importance of this teaching method. Online education seems to have been able to change the landscape of education. However, while technological innovation is essential for the growth of distant education, the effectiveness of distance training is not sufficient. The way of categorizing learners and adapt techniques of instruction for learning styles has been for a long time, an ongoing discussion about how related teaching styles are, that if the student says he prefers a learning styles, they actually learn by this style better.

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Given the considerable interest in learning styles, the theory and the events created for students based on theory[1][2] pose several issues. In education, the expression of teaching styles is used to define the different approaches of learners to teaching. The issues include the lack of a strong expressive theory, lack of theoretical research, lack of reliability and validity of ideas, and lack of linkages between education and accomplishment. Whether this discussion also exists in online education, how teaching styles impact the academic achievement of learners and whether there is any distinction between male and female learners, we are analyzing.

VARK model of learning styles

Although a wide variety of teaching styles exist [ 3 ], we have chosen to use Fleming and Mills ' visual, auditory, reading/writing and kinesthetic VARK model [4] because of its adequacy, shortage, and comprehensive student appreciation. The VARK model has been studied extensively and is maybe the most well-known learning style theory. Regrettably, the discussion about the model was created as the VARK model expanded the advertising and popularity in mainstream education[5]. The VARK model was first set up as an instrument to encourage debate and reflection on teaching approaches. This note was primarily lost and Fleming recalled to readers that the VARK assessment was never a diagnostic instrument. [6]. Furthermore, many authors of diverse article show that several of them continue to use VARK learning styles as 'a support' for why they can't learn well (e.g., 'I am simply not a visual learner'). Pashler et al.'s (2009) report on a shortfall in proof of significant learning styles by means of serious techniques and other comparable research at the time[5 ]. The VARK questionnaire (VARK, 2017) is easily accessible online and includes only 16 questions, which allows a student to finish the survey more probably than to do a longer learning style study. The VARK model categorizes learners according to the sensory mode of presentation of data. Visual (V): Students are classified as visual (V) who prefer to see data as pictures, diagrams and flowcharts. Studying by looking at images, graphs, and flowcharts is suggested. Auditory (A): People who prefer to receive audio data are categorized as Auditory students (A) Studying by attending courses, debating the material with others, and reading notes or text out loud in a tape recorder is suggested. Reading / Writing (R): students tend to use text or tables to understand data better. They are suggested to study by writing notes in their own words or by arranging data lists and tables. Kinesthetics (K): if students want new data to be obviously applicable, or something they can operate by their hands, they are categorized as kinesthetic learners. [7]. In the VARK model, the learner is said to be unimodal if an individual has a favorite in one of these categories. The preferences of individuals can be over one of those categories, and the student is classified as bimodal[8]. If a person has preferences for three of the four categories, the student has a tri-modal category and so on, more people fall into one of those multimodal categories.

Identifying learning styles in online education

There are methods that the teacher can use to acknowledge the particular learning style of a student in the traditional classroom environment. The first step is to do a main assessment through short private interviews with learners and formal observation of their particular behaviors in the classroom. A profound private interview with the student is another step in evaluating a student's style of teaching. Using checklists and the VARK questionnaire[9] is the next step in identifying teaching styles. Observation and in-depth personal interviews cannot be handled in online courses, but the VARK questionnaire can be used to determine the learning styles of learners taking part in online courses. Therefore, even if a certain student has some learning styles, a diverse range of learning experiences should be considered in order to be a more flexible learner. When learning styles of learners are recognized, an suitable learning context can be defined [10][11].

Course delivery

We have developed two experimental courses (C1 and C2) with two student groups (group A and group B) for the purpose of this study. The first course (C1) can be regarded a less sophisticated course on computer science, while the second course (C2) is a more sophisticated course requiring some prior computer science expertise. Students enrolled in both classes, the participants were randomly selected. In order to investigate with the preferred student learning styles, we used different presentation types, for delivering the educational content of each course:

  • Offline document content - PDF documents, presentations and url links with related content were designed and spread to students. This makes it possible for students to independently manage their time and learn at their own selected pace. This method of delivery corresponds with the Read/Write modality.
  • Offline video content - video presentations were recorded and delivered to the students in the form of a streaming video. This gives the opportunity for students to watch the material presented in a more animated fashion but still create their own learning schedule. This method of delivery corresponds with Visual and Audio modality.
  • Online video conferencing - live video conferences were prepared with the professor of each course. The lectures were scheduled at fixed time, and students needed to be enrolled for the appropriate course. This delivery method differs from the previous delivery methods were students had the freedom of organizing their time at their own. But, at the end of the lecture, students have the opportunity to cooperate with the professor and among themselves. This corresponds with the Kinesthetic modality.

The A group that attended the C1 course, were asked to choose their preferred content delivery type. According to their choice, they were divided into three stereotypes, and to each stereotype the lectures were presented according to their preferences, the B group of students that attended the C1 course, had no chance to choose the preferred content delivery type. The choice of the type of education materials delivery was made by the professor. For the C2 course, students from B group choose their preferred content deliver type; while students from A group were given the content delivery type chosen by the professor.

Discussion and Conclusion

The VARK style inventory enables individuals to think about how they learn and promotes students to adopt study methods that can work better than their present strategies. The goals of this study were to assess whether students are developing and using study approaches that are compatible with their teaching styles and, if so, the alignment with course outcomes. Of course, while many students find the VARK test interesting, the students in this research have not used the VARK results to alter their research. Students may be sensitive to past research methods which are comfortable and easy or become actual habit[19], and may be uncomfortable in how they think they learn best or should improve their knowledge. Instead, they are aware of their misunderstandings. However, there is hope that these students will be helped. Explicit assistance on proof-based study strategies can help students develop truly useful study strategies[20].

Therefore, these empirical approaches to research in the future should continue to be identified. This present study also demonstrates that even those students with studies consistent with their dominant VARK category did not achieve greater achievement. These findings, combined with extensive prior studies into the myth of learning styles[12], provide strong evidence that educators and learners should not promote the idea of learning styles for studying and/or for teaching. Teachers need to be able to learn, perceive and process information in order to support students ' success in online education. In every online course, every type of student needs to be accommodated. The blend of methods and teaching technologies allow online students to choose which writing style best fits their own styles of learning. Effective teaching happens when teachers reach students who are unhappy with their own teaching style. To reduce the gaps between research and practice in this field, education research can be articulated by providing arguments which question the methods employed by certain study styles rather than question the existence of teaching styles with statements of power. This would enhance the educators ' professional decision-making ability and offer them more professional space.

References

  1. Coffield, Frank, et al. 'Learning styles and pedagogy in post-16 learning: A systematic and critical review.' (2004).
  2. An, Donggun, and Martha Carr. 'Learning styles theory fails to explain learning and achievement: Recommendations for alternative approaches.' Personality and Individual Differences 116 (2017): 410-416.
  3. Husmann, Polly R., and Valerie Dean O'Loughlin. 'Another nail in the coffin for learning styles? Disparities among undergraduate anatomy students’ study strategies, class performance, and reported VARK learning styles.' Anatomical sciences education 12, no. 1 (2019): 6-19.
  4. 1Hawk, Thomas F., and Amit J. Shah. 'Using learning style instruments to enhance student learning.' Decision Sciences Journal of Innovative Education 5.1 (2007): 1-19.
  5. Fleming, N. & Baume, D. (2006). Learning Styles Again: VARKING up the Right Tree! Educational Developments, 7, 4-7.
  6. Russell, T. L. (2001). The no significant difference phenomenon: A comparative research annotated bibliography on technology for distance education: as reported in 355 research reports, summaries and papers (5th ed.). IDECC.
  7. Fleming, Neil D. 'Facts, fallacies and myths: VARK and learning preferences.' Retrieved from vark-learn. com/Introduction-to-vark/the-vark-modalities (2012).
  8. Scott, Catherine. 'The enduring appeal of ‘learning styles’.' Australian Journal of Education 54.1 (2010): 5-17.
  9. Falloon, G. (2011). Making the connection: Moore’s theory of transactional distance and its relevance to the use of a virtual classroom in postgraduate online teacher education. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 43(3), 187–209.
  10. Idrizi, Ermira, Sonja Filiposka, and Vladimir Trajkovik. 'Character Traits in Online Education: Case Study.' International Conference on Telecommunications. Springer, Cham, 2018.
  11. Idrizi, Ermira, and Sonja Filiposka. 'VARK Learning Styles and Online Education: Case Study.' learning 5: 6.
  12. Tucker, S. (2001). Distance Education: Better, Worse, or As Good As Traditional Education?. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 4(4),. Retrieved May 28, 2019 from https://www.learntechlib.org/p/92510/.
  13. Bonk, C. J., Mimi Miyoung, L., Xiaojing, K., Shuya, X., & Feng-Ru, S. (2015). Understanding the self-directed online learning preferences, goals, achievements, and challenges of MIT OpenCourseWare subscribers. Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 18(2), 349–368.
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The Discourse on Learning Styles in Online Education. (2022, Jun 09). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 16, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-discourse-on-learning-styles-in-online-education/
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The Discourse on Learning Styles in Online Education. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-discourse-on-learning-styles-in-online-education/> [Accessed 16 Jun. 2024].
The Discourse on Learning Styles in Online Education [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Jun 09 [cited 2024 Jun 16]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-discourse-on-learning-styles-in-online-education/
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