Learning-styles responsive instruction

iStock_000016837201_ExtraSmallLearning-styles responsive instruction (Dunn and Dunn Model) increases academic achievement and improves attitudes toward learning, concludes Maryann Kiely Lovelace, a Northern Valley New Jersey Regional High School science teacher.

Lovelace performed a quantitative synthesis on the experimental research of the Dunn and Dunn Learning-Style Model, conducted between 1980 and 2000. These research findings involved 7,196 students in 76 original studies. Lovelace’s results show that the mean effect sizes for achievement from past and present meta-analyses were consistent.

On average, learning-styles responsive instruction increased the achievement or improved attitudes toward learning, or both. Previous studies show that students, regardless of academic level, earn statistically higher standardized achievement test score s when they are taught in ways that take advantage of their learning-style preferences.

The Dunn and Dunn model uses the self-administered Learning-Style Inventory to identify factors that enable students to best master new and difficult academic information and skills. Preferences include elements such as level of noise, temperature and other environmental factors. Individuals vary in the amount of time they can work at a single task, whether they prefer to work alone or with others, and how much support they need from a teacher. Some students learn better by seeing, others by hearing or actually physically working with materials.

No person is affected by all learning-style elements, but most have strong preferences in a few areas that can significantly affect the rate of their learning and their enjoyment of the task. Dunn and Dunn’s model posits that most individuals can learn but differ in the ways they learn best. They believe that instructional preferences exist and can be measured reliably. Students, in their opinion, attain statistically higher achievement and have better attitudes when given responsive learning environments, resources and approaches. Lovelace’s analyses of existing research confirm their theory.

“Meta-Analysis of Experimental Research Based on the Dunn and Dunn Model,” The Journal of Educational Research, Volume 98, Number 3, February 2005, pp. 176-188.

Published in ERN April 2005 Volume 18 Number 4

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