Assessing the Effectiveness of Learning Styles as Predictors of Performance within Three Distinct Pedagogic Methodologies


  • Daniel C. Brenenstuhl
  • Ralph F. Catalanello


Do individuals really learn differently? Will different instructional methods influence the performance of individuals with different learning styles? Answers to these basic questions represent the foundation of much of the research on pedagological methods and learning styles. One problem with research in learning styles is that no one has clearly defined the basic elements underlying various learning styles. Several researchers have suggested learning elements that apparently support learning styles in educational environments [3] [7] [9] [10]. These learning elements have been labeled by Kolb [8] as concrete experience (CE), reflective observation, (RO), abstract conceptualization (AC) and active experimentation (AE). He has developed an instrument that identifies four statistically prevalent types of learning styles based upon these four learning elements. Kolb labels these types of learning styles as convergers, divergers, assimilators and accommodators and describes them as follows [10, p. 6]: The converger’s dominant learning abilities are abstract conceptualization (AC) and active experimentation (AE). This style seems to do best in those situations like conventional intelligence tests where there is a single correct answer of solution to a question or problem. The diverger is best at concrete experience (CE) and reflective observation (RO). Their greatest strength lies in imaginative ability. They excel in the ability to view concrete situations from many perspectives and to organize many relationships into a meaningful “Gestalt.” This learning style performs better in situations that call for generation of ideas such as a “brainstorming” idea session. The assimilator’s dominant learning elements are abstract conceptualization (AC) and reflective observation (RO). Their greatest strength lies in their ability to create theoretical models. They excel in inductive reasoning; in assimilating disparate observations into an integrated explanation. The accommodator is best at concrete experience (CE) and active experience (AE). Their greatest strength lies in doing things; in carrying out plans and experiments and involving themselves in new experiences.