About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 3379-3384
Publication year: 2016
ISBN: 978-84-608-8860-4
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2016.1742

Conference name: 8th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 4-6 July, 2016
Location: Barcelona, Spain

SUPPORTING LEARNING STYLES: THE ONLINE CLASS PERSPECTIVE

B. Nkonge

North Carolina A&T State University (UNITED STATES)
As widespread adoption of online higher education has grown, an equally important development for instructors is how to offer the same quality of education in the online environment as they do in the traditional classroom. For the purpose of this paper, an online class is one where at least 80 percent of instruction is delivered online; the traditional classroom is one where instruction takes place in a physical location, although technology may be used on occasion. The ability to learn is enhanced when individual learners’ unique approaches to how best they acquire new knowledge based on their preferences, coincides with the way instruction is delivered.

The purpose of this paper was to explore select learning styles in the context of online higher education, with the goal of demystifying their meaning and providing applicable solutions for supporting them. In higher education, it is not uncommon for instructors to have little knowledge about pedagogy and how people learn. It is said that, instructors teach the same way that they were taught, which could skew their assessment about the reasons for the challenges that their students face. The discrepancy between how instruction is structured and delivered vis-a-vis the learners’ preferred learning styles could cause learner disengagement and low performance. While institutions of higher education offer professional development opportunities for online instructors, research indicates that more needs to be done. Gaps in knowledge about pedagogy, including learning styles can only be assumed to still persist. Although instructors may be passionate about their discipline, their teaching tactics could potentially stifle the online learners’ ability to excel.

According to Chickering and Ehrmann (1996), “Good practice respects diverse talents and ways of learning”. With the popularity of online education among learners diverse in age, talent, educational and socio-economic backgrounds, the need to create meaningful learning experiences can only be adequately realized when instructors are aware of learning styles prevalent in their classes, among other factors. To uphold this principle, instructors should harness the power of current technologies, especially the web. In the online class, where learner motivation and attrition rates are significant concerns, the role of technology in the design and delivery of instruction cannot be ignored. While the reasons for the high attrition rates should not be solely attributed to instructors’ inability to address learning styles, meeting the needs of learners through the adoption of a “good practice” has the potential to curtail negative learning outcomes. Those institutions that address learning styles of their target learner populations, will remain competitive amid expanding access to online programs across the globe.

This paper reviewed select learning styles as well as practical approaches for supporting them in the online class. The lessons learned were derived from observations and discussions on online teaching where instructors shared insights as to what worked best in addressing diverse learning styles.
@InProceedings{NKONGE2016SUP,
author = {Nkonge, B.},
title = {SUPPORTING LEARNING STYLES: THE ONLINE CLASS PERSPECTIVE},
series = {8th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies},
booktitle = {EDULEARN16 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-608-8860-4},
issn = {2340-1117},
doi = {10.21125/edulearn.2016.1742},
url = {http://dx.doi.org/10.21125/edulearn.2016.1742},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Barcelona, Spain},
month = {4-6 July, 2016},
year = {2016},
pages = {3379-3384}}
TY - CONF
AU - B. Nkonge
TI - SUPPORTING LEARNING STYLES: THE ONLINE CLASS PERSPECTIVE
SN - 978-84-608-8860-4/2340-1117
DO - 10.21125/edulearn.2016.1742
PY - 2016
Y1 - 4-6 July, 2016
CI - Barcelona, Spain
JO - 8th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
JA - EDULEARN16 Proceedings
SP - 3379
EP - 3384
ER -
B. Nkonge (2016) SUPPORTING LEARNING STYLES: THE ONLINE CLASS PERSPECTIVE, EDULEARN16 Proceedings, pp. 3379-3384.
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