Institute of Learning Styles Research

Dissertation Abstracts

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Abstract Title

Roberts, R. J. (1999). A comparison of perceptual learning styles of successful and unsuccessful high school students in Pasco County, Florida (Doctoral dissertation, University of South Florida, 1999). Dissertation Abstracts International, 60(03A), 651.


This study investigated perceptual learning styles of 72 high school juniors at a rural high school in Pasco County, Florida. The Multi-Modal Paired Associates Learning Test III (MMPALT III) was used to assess seven individual perceptual modalities: print, aural, interactive, visual, haptic, kinesthetic, and olfactory. In this method, pairs of units, such as words, pictures, or verbalizations are presented to the respondent with one item as the stimulus and one as the response. Two rounds of interaction are completed. In the first round, the subject studies the pair and associates, to the best of his/her ability, the stimulus to the second item of the pair. Students participating in the study were chosen via a stratified random sample using academic success and gender as variables. All subjects had achieved junior level by virtue of the number of high school credits earned. Perceptual learning style preferences were compared between successful males and females (GPA < 2.0) and unsuccessful males and females (GPA > 2.0). Three research questions were addressed: What are the patterns of perceptual modalities of successful and unsuccessful high school students? Are there significant differences in the patterns of perceptual modalities of successful and unsuccessful high school students? Are there perceptual modality differences between successful and unsuccessful high school students based on gender? A 2 x 2 x 7 Factorial Analysis of Variance revealed no significant interaction or main effects for GPA or gender. Findings of the study included the rank order of subtest means to be visual, interactive, haptic, aural, kinesthetic, print, and olfactory. This was in contrast to previous MMPALT studies; however, this may be due to differences in versions of the instrument. There is no basis, in terms of learning style, to believe that the learning of males surpasses that of females, and vice versa; also, academic success or lack of success was not found to be a factor in considering learning style. It is implied that mismatches between learning and styles of teaching should be remedied utilizing MMPALT III learning style information. Recommendations for further research include a call for further validation of the instrument and inclusion of a greater diversity of racial and socioeconomic participants. Further research should also include differing age groups in the kindergarten through twelfth grade setting to determine if modality dominance exists in particular age groups.

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