Journal article Open Access

Matching learning style to instructional method: Effects on comprehension.

Rogowsky, Beth A.; Calhoun, Barbara M.; Tallal, Paula

While it is hypothesized that providing instruction based on individuals' preferred learning styles improves learning (i.e., reading for visual learners and listening for auditory learners, also referred to as the meshing hypothesis), after a critical review of the literature Pashler, McDaniel, Rohrer, and Bjork (2008) concluded that this hypothesis lacks empirical evidence and subsequently described the experimental design needed to evaluate the meshing hypothesis. Following the design of Pashler et al., we empirically investigated the effect of learning style preference with college-educated adults, specifically as applied to (a) verbal comprehension aptitude (listening or reading) and (b) learning based on mode of instruction (digital audiobook or e-text). First, participants' auditory and visual learning style preferences were established based on a standardized adult learning style inventory. Participants were then given a verbal comprehension aptitude test in both oral and written forms. Results failed to show a statistically significant relationship between learning style preference (auditory, visual word) and learning aptitude (listening comprehension, reading comprehension). Second, participants were randomly assigned to 1 of 2 groups that received the same instructional material from a nonfiction book, but each in a different instructional mode (digital audiobook, e-text), and then completed a written comprehension test immediately and after 2 weeks. Results demonstrated no statistically significant relationship between learning style preference (auditory, visual word) and instructional method (audiobook, e-text) for either immediate or delayed comprehension tests. Taken together, the results of our investigation failed to statistically support the meshing hypothesis either for verbal comprehension aptitude or learning based on mode of instruction (digital audiobook, e-text).

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