Institute of Learning Styles Research

Dissertation Abstracts

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Abstract Title

Reno, H. (1997). A comparison of the perceptual learning styles of native Hispanic adults and European-American adults as measured by the Multi-Modal Paired Associates Learning Test (Doctoral dissertation, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida, 1997). Dissertation Abstracts International, 58(11A), 4159.


This study investigated dimensions of perceptual learning channels and the relationship of language to perceptual modality competence. Using the Multi-Modal Paired Associates Learning Test III (MMPALT III), 40 participants drawn from native Spanish and 40 from native English-speaking cultures were tested in each of the seven perceptual learning modalities. The two groups were matched by age (+ six years), gender, educational level, and ethnicity. Modalities tested were Print, aural, interactive, visual, kinesthetic, haptic, and olfactory. The MMPALT III is a performance-based test which assesses a learner’s ability to acquire information through each of these learning channels.

A two-factor MANOVA study design was used with language and educational level identified as independent variables. Findings indicated a significant main effect for language and no significant effect for either educational level or the interaction term. A subsequent 1x7 MANOVA and univariate ANOVA’s indicated significant differences between the two language groups in four modalities, with native English-speaking participants scoring significantly higher in visual, aural, and kinesthetic, while native Spanish-speaking participants scored higher in olfactory. Patterns of modality strength varied between the two groups, with visual being the strongest modality for native English speakers and Interactive being strongest for native Spanish speakers. Haptic was ranked the second strongest modality for both groups.

Implications for practice suggested by this study include acknowledging the importance of interactive learning to native Spanish speakers. Performance for this group was highest in the interactive modality and the need for interaction in learning was evident thorough many of the other subtests. Based upon the results of this study, teachers of native Spanish-speaking adults should be aware that, for many, traditional forms of teaching such as lectures and reading printed material may not be as effective as small group discussion or hands-on practice of a new skill.

This was an exploratory study, and one of a series involved in validating revisions to the MMPALT test battery. Further research investigating the validity and reliability of this instrument was recommended. Other recommendations for research included study of other ethnic groups for unique patterns of learning. Also recommended was an investigation of components of learning, especially a learner’s ability to associate new information with established knowledge.

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