A quantitative and qualitative study of the effect of learning preferences on achievement and selected attitudinal variables

Michael Joseph Gilhool

Abstract

This study researched how students' knowledge of their learning preferences affected their achievement in writing and selected attitudinal variables of anger, anxiety, and curiosity. The quantitative portion of this study used ANOVA to measure the changes in students' achievement and attitudes. The qualitative portion of this study used data from 10 interviews with community college students, focusing on their reflections of their use of knowledge of their learning preferences in studying. The quantitative portion of this study used an experimental group, comprised of 18 subjects, and three control groups, comprised of 39 subjects. Three instruments were utilized for quantitative analyses: (a) the College Level Academic Skills Test (CLAST), Objective Writing Test, Hartcourt-Brace Form (40 questions) section, (b) the Spielberger State-Trait Personality Inventory, Forms Y-1 and Y-2 (STPI), and (c) the Productivity Environmental Preference Survey (PEPS). The CLAST achievement scores and the selected attitudinal variable of curiosity were significantly higher for the experimental group than the control groups. The scores for the attitudinal variable of anxiety decreased for both the experimental and the control groups, but the scores were not significantly different. On the attitudinal variable of anger, the control groups had a significant decrease in their scores in contrast with the experimental group which increased. The 10 case studies of the qualitative facet of the study revealed concerns about comfort zones, academic pressures, and time constraints. When the students were out of their comfort zones, distress often increased. This feeling of distress generated academic pressures and made the learners more consciously aware of the passage of time in completing their assignments. This was particularly true when the teaching preferences did not match those learning preferences of the learners.