Learning Styles Online

When I think of learning styles I typically think of the standard:




In this research, when we discuss learning styles, we will be talking about Kolb’s Learning Styles. SimplyPsychology defined Kolb’s learning style best saying,

Kolb’s learning theory (1974) sets out four distinct learning styles, which are based on a four-stage learning cycle. Various factors influence a person’s preferred style.  For example, social environment, educational experiences, or the basic cognitive structure of the individual. Whatever influences the choice of style, the learning style preference itself is actually the product of two pairs of variables, or two separate ‘choices’ that we make, which Kolb presented as lines of an axis, each with ‘conflicting’ modes at either end.


Here is a visual of the learning cycle.

Before getting into the research, if you’d like, let’s do an activity.


What do you prefer: synchronous or asynchronous classes?

What is your Kolb’s learning style? (To answer this you can go through this questionnaire that will take about 10 minutes – write down the numbers you “checked” and then match them up to the terms below)

If you don’t want to answer questionnaire, you can follow along with me.

I prefer asynchronous classes, but understand material better when I am in a synchronous classes. For the sake of this activity, I will say that I prefer synchronous courses since I learn better in that type of course.

When taking this questionnaire, I discovered I have a strong preference towards being a reflector learner.

Along with the reflector I also have a preference for concrete experiences which puts me at Kolb’s learning style: Diverger

Mehdi Mehri Shahabadi and Megha Uplane conducted a study to find out which of Kolb’s learning styles were more populated in synchronous and asynchronous classes. They studied the learning styles of 731 e-learners from six virtual universities. They also categorized the participants into academic performance: low, medium, and high. The researchers goal was to determine the learning styles of the two types of e-learners and compare them based on academic performance.

Based on the results of a survey, the researchers determined which learning styles preferred which method.

Assimilating learners stronger preferred synchronous courses, along with diverging learners in second place. Converging learners preferred asynchronous courses. What I find interested is that Accommodating learners were ranked at the bottom in both options. Accommodating learners have the most hands on approach learning style. They have a strong preference for doing, rather than thinking. It makes sense that e-learning courses may not be their preference. These type of learners may learn best in a classroom setting.

Researchers Shahabadi and Uplane conducted Kruskal-Wallis test to see if the different learning styles affected academic performance. To be transparent, this part was confusing to me. They tested the academic performance of students who tested high, medium, or low in the synchronous and asynchronous classes. Researchers found that there was no significant difference between learning styles and academic performance of asynchronous e-learners. They did find a statistical difference in the synchronous e-learners though.

A Kruskal-Wallis test was conducted to determine whether statistically significant difference between learning styles of students and different academic performance in Synchronous e-learning environment. The results indicated that whether =22.559 (df =2, N = 388) is larger than the critical value of the Kruskal-Wallis (5.99) while, p= .000< 0.05 = Į. The students of low academic performance recorded a higher median score (Md = 229.76, N=122) than the other academic performance groups while, mediocre performance group recorded the second median (M =182.60, N=210) and high academic performance group recorded the last median (Md = 162.29, N=58). Thus, there exists enough evidence to conclude that there was a significant difference in learning styles within academic performance of students in synchronous e- learning environment in Universities of Tehran.

In conclusion, the researchers found the students with a Converging and Assimilating style preferred asynchronous learning. These types of learning styles are the bottoms quadrants of Kolb’s learning style graph, which means they lean more towards abstract thinking. Since asynchronous courses are not limited to the typical restraints such as time or location in a classroom, abstract learners may enjoy that type of freedom in their learning journey. Asynchronous courses are based in the constructivist theory, where it is learner centered. It makes sense that abstract learners would thrive in the asynchronous environment. Assimilating and Diverging learning styles preferred synchronous courses. It was interesting to see that the Assimilating learning style was in the top two for both asynchronous and synchronous and Accommodating learning style was the number four for both styles, since those learners typically prefer the classroom over online options.

I thought this research did a great job of explaining the learning styles and why each one might prefer (or not prefer) the type of online courses offered. The graphs did an excellent job of showcasing each learning style’s preference and really added to the narrative of the research. I thought the question of which learning style preferred which medium of class was a smart question. I also like the question of which learning style performed academically better in which course, but without a visual or explaining it laymen terms, I found it difficult to understand. The question also seems to be hard to answer. Though students may have the same Kolb learning style they will not perform in a similar manner or maybe they aren’t comfortable with technology and so on. I think it was an interesting question, but when only explained in one paragraph with a bunch of unexplained statistics, I found it difficult to keep up.

I’d be interested in what your answers are in the discussion board in canvas.

I found that the research rang true for my situation. As a diverger learner, it was listed as number two for synchronous courses, which is how I learn better. Though they were pretty much tied for second with asynchronous courses, which is my preferred method.

What was your learning style and did the research match up with what you prefer?

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