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Welcome to our newsletter for the week of 08-04-03.

By Rhonda Cupp

We add a new issue to the site every week throughout the academic year. We are excited about what this means to you as a user of McGraw-Hill's Student Success site. We can now keep this site up-to-date. The extensive materials on this Web site discuss issues that relate to student success.

Learning Styles

It is accepted that if students are taught in a manner consistent with their learning style, then learning will be facilitated.

Learning styles are considered to be the manner in which an individual learns or the psychological and cognitive characteristics that determine the way a person learns. It is generally accepted that teaching styles that are similar to the student’s learning styles facilitate the learning. However, there are many different ideas concerning which characteristics or behaviors constitute a particular learning style. The following is a brief overview of some of these differing ideas.

Some researchers believe that an individual’s learning style depends on multiple dimensions such as environmental, emotional, sociological, and psychological characteristics. According to this line of thought, optimal learning is dependent upon the correct interaction of all the dimensions. Dunn and Dunn’s Learning Styles Inventory is representative of the multi-dimensional framework. It is a self-report instrument that measures a multitude of variables such as motivation, lighting, temperature, influences of others as opposed to working alone, etc (DeBello, 1990).

Other theorists believe that optimal learning depends primarily on the cognitive processes of the individual. This is exemplified by Letteri’s informational processing model of learning. According to Letteri’s model there are six stages of processing that range from perception to long-term memory. Once a child learns how to process information efficiently then he/she can use the skill to generalize them across other areas (DeBello, 1990).

Schmeck also conceptualized learning as the processing of information, but in his view people are predisposed to a particular method of processing information. He categorized learning style as a continuum resulting in shallow processors to elaborate processors. Shallow processors attend to facts but lack the deeper, analytical thinking of the elaborate processors (DeBello, 1990).

Gregorc theorized that learning style was patterns of perception unique to the individual. He discerned four different learning patterns; everyone could use all four but he believed that each individual has a propensity for one or two of the four. Similar to Schmeck, Gregorc saw these as in-born inclinations (DeBello, 1990).

While it seems like a good idea to match teaching styles or methods of instruction to a student’s particular learning style, it is obvious from the different ideas of researchers that this could be problematic. The type of teaching method would depend on the framework used to determine students’ learning styles. Additionally, some research has disputed the idea that learning styles are stable personality traits. They observe that learning style might best be described as situational, that is, depending on the particular situation in which the learning occurs. Moreover, they argue that many of the self-report inventories fail to differentiate between learners ("Individual differences and learning styles", 2003).

Related Links
Excellent site contains multiple links to related topics.
This is a fun site where you can take a test to find out your own learning style.
This site is an interview with Rita Dunn, one of the creators of the Learning Style Inventory.
This site examines even more ideas on learning styles.


DeBello, T.C. (1990). "Comparison of eleven different learning styles models: variables, appropriate populations, validity of instrumentation, and the research behind them." Journal of Reading, Writing, and Learning Disabilities, 6: 203-222.

"Individual differences and learning styles." Retrieved from the Internet 2/13/2003 from


Why is it difficult to tailor teaching style to learning style?
A)Different learning styles do not really exist.
B)It depends on which framework is used to discern learning style.
C)All children use a different learning style.
D)Some children don’t have a learning style.

What is the definition of learning style?
A)How a person learns.
B)Cognitive patterns of perception.
C)Multi-dimensional aspects that affect learning.
D)All of the above.

Choose one learning style and describe a congruent instructional method based on its theoretical foundation.