Faculty and student perceptions of teaching styles: Do teaching styles differ for traditional and nontraditional students?

Evelyn Doreen McCollin

Abstract

The influx of adult learners in collegiate classrooms suggests the need to examine the extent to which college faculty employ adult learning principles in their classrooms. The primary purpose of this study was to determine if there were a difference between college faculty's and students' perceptions of teaching styles and the extent to which faculty employed different teaching styles for traditional and nontraditional students. A secondary purpose was to determine if a relationship existed between the criterion variable of teaching styles of instructors, as indicated by PALS and the predictor variables of instructors' age, gender, nationality, years of teaching experience, work status, educational level, and type of course facilitated. The relationship between the criterion variable of teaching styles, as indicated by APALS, and students' variables of age, gender, course taken, academic major, length of attendance, part-time or full-time status was also investigated. Participants in the study were 84 faculty and 585 students at College of the Bahamas. The student sample consisted of 243 traditional students (under age 25) and 342 nontraditional students (25 years and over). Instructors' teaching styles were measured by the Principles of Adult Learning Scale (PALS) and an adapted form of the PALS instrument, the Adapted Principles of Adult Learning Scale (APALS), measured students' perceptions of their instructors' teaching styles. The Instructor Information Form and The Student Information Form were used to collect personal data on the instructor and students. An independent measures t-test and multiple regression analysis were used to analyze the data. The findings revealed that there was a statistically significant difference ($p\le.05$) between instructors' perceptions of their teaching styles and students' perceptions of their instructors' teaching styles. Students rated instructors as more teacher-centered than instructors rated themselves. Multiple regression analysis revealed a significant relationship ($p\le.05$) between instructor predictor variables and PALS' score and there was a significant relationship between students' predictor variables and the APALS' score. Further analysis of the predictor variables indicated that 27.2% of the variance in the instructors' PALS' score was explained by the instructors' educational level and type of course taught. The results also revealed that 14% of the variance in the students' APALS score was explained by the students' academic major and type of course taken. The study has implications for faculty development workshops in adult learning principles and teaching styles. Conclusions and recommendations are included.