Skip to main content

Learning styles: A qualitative inquiry

8 December 1992


"70% of our students learn most comfortably in ways not generally attended to in our schools" (1987, 53). Research/Conceptual Framework: This study is based largely on the framework of learning styles established by Bernice McCarthy and Anthony Gregorc. Each emphasizes four "quadrants" of learners. Each quadrant represents a different learning style, largely based on the different ways a person (student) perceives and processes information. Students (and teachers) have a tendency to "tip" toward one or two different learning styles. Accommodating each quadrant, or learning style, some of the time is a critical "must" for teachers. By doing so, "all students get a chance to shine 25% of the time" (1987, 47). Research Questions: How does the (high school) math teacher and classroom accommodate for different student learning styles? How are the students' displayed attitudes, motivation, and math aptitude affected as a result? Discoveries: The math classroom was formal and structured, by design. There was an implicit, and often explicit, message that these were the conditions under which mathematics should, and could only, be learned. Seldom were all learning styles accommodated. The hand-held calculator was the predominant manipulative used. Habit and tradition were likely explanations for the "mismatching" of many student learning styles and the predominant form of teaching style: lecture. The winners were those Abstract learners who thought abstractly and reflectively -- the analytic learners with strong verbal and visual skills. The losers were those learners who thought more concretely and actively -- the dynamic learners, or lIexperimenters, II who desired some trial and error, randomness, and intuitive approaches in their learning. Unfortunately, the math classroom did little to accommodate their needs -- the freedom to be informal and unstructured was seldom granted. The message seemed to be: "A student can only learn mathematics by being in class and paying attention. II The result was, sadly, many bored and unmotivated students. As educators, We must make a better, more concerted effort to reach all students, by accommodating all learning styles some of the time. It will not be easy, but the price is too great if we do not. There must not be any losers! i i


Files are restricted to Pacific University. Sign in to view.