USING LEARNING STYLES DATA TO SUPPORT ACADEMIC DEVELOPMENT FOR SOUTH AFRICAN TERTIARY EDUCATION STUDENTS IN AN INTRODUCTORY COMPUTER SCIENCE COURSE
Rhodes University (SOUTH AFRICA)
Many students have difficulty in grasping core concepts and applying these in the process of learning computer programming and developing computational-thinking skills. Often these problems can stem from difficulties students experience due to their learning in ways that deviate to varying extents from those of more academically successful classmates, or ways that deviate from the style in which they are taught. An investigation of the role of learning styles in the learning and teaching of introductory Computer Science at Rhodes University was carried out with the 2014 first-year programming class, beginning with a survey of existing literature on the issue. Kolb’s Experiential Learning Cycle and accompanying assessment instrument, the Learning Styles Inventory (LSI), were identified as useful tools to provide insight and inform action to assist students. Kolb’s LSI was administered to the class to identify each student’s dominant learning style(s). These were then correlated with academic performance, and the results compared to similar studies both within the specific South African tertiary educational Computer Science context, and internationally.