Institute of Learning Styles Research

Dissertation Abstracts

Return to List


Abstract Title

Butler-Tindell, M. (1994). A study of relationships among perceptual modality dominance and choice of college major (Doctoral dissertation, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN, 1994). Dissertation Abstracts International, 56(04A), 1227A.


This study focused on the relationships among advanced students’ perceptual learning styles(s) and their college major. The Multi-Modal Paired Associates Learning Test, Revised (MMPALT II) was used to assess seven individual perceptual modalities: print, aural, interactive, visual, haptic, kinesthetic and olfactory.

A total of 40 subjects participated in this study, 10 from each of the following academic programs: Architecture, Engineering, Social Work, and Human Performance and Sports Studies. All subjects had obtained senior status and were expected to graduate shortly.

Deans and/or Department Heads representing each of the four majors studied were interviewed and asked to predict the dominant perceptual learning styles of students in their academic areas. These predictions were used to answer the question, "Are the patterns of dominance exhibited by seniors in a given major what we expect?"

This study results in the following findings:

  1. All seven perceptual styles identified by French did manifest themselves in this selected adult university student population. However, olfactory was not a dominant learning mode for any of the students tested.
  2. There were measurable variations in the perceptual learning styles of this university student population.
  3. College seniors in a given major within this university population did exhibit similar patterns of perceptual learning style dominance as measured by the MMPALT II, but there were also differences in styles among them.
  4. College administrators representing the academic majors studied were sometimes, but not always able to correctly predict the dominant styles of successful students in their programs. Implications for advising, academic counseling and instruction are discussed.


Return to List