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Literature Review

Are you aware that how you learn may be different from your friends and classmates? Is there a particular way information is presented that is easier for you to retain than others? Learning styles are factors that can affect students’ learning processes. Learners use different styles based on their differences.  It is recommended that teachers should strive to assess the learning styles of their students and adjust the classroom accordingly to best fit the majority of learning styles.  (Pritchard, 2008)

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The investigation of the factors that are effective in learning, which is dependent on multiple dimensions, can include the cognitive, social, political, and emotional growth of the learners. Importantly, an issue which can present a guide for desirable learning is researching learning styles and their relationship with academic achievement. Learning style is can refer to a range of competing theories which are directed towards an individual’s learning preferences in identifying, organizing and processing information and learning experiences.  Individual differences occur because learners use different learning styles due to their differences. Different methodologies have been designed for determining people’s learning styles. Kolb recognizes that learning is a process which utilizes knowledge to create an experiential change. (Kolb & Kolb, 2005)

The resulting application of learning style-related theories and research have led to extensive methodologies for learning styles. Therefore, different researchers use different methodologies to classify learning styles. (Spoon & Schell)  The scaling and classifying methodologies are similar to each other and focus on learning environment preferences, emotional and cognitive conditions, personality types, or cognitive styles. (Kolb, 2005)

Undergraduate education should enhance students’ capacities and prepare them for life-long learning so that they can update their knowledge to theories and practice. One of the important matters in education is how to create a suitable environment for learning (Spoon & Schell, 1998)  In consideration of the importance of learning styles in learning and academic achievement, the current study aims to investigate the effects of discussion type education on academic performance for each learning style.

 Background: Kolb’s Model

Kolb’s model outlines models specific to individual learning which include four modalities:   grasping experience, concrete experience, and abstract conceptualization, as well as, approach for learning transformation which  include  reflective observation and active experimentation. (Malave, Belhot, & Figueiredo, 2003)  In the context of Kolb’s model, the idyllic learning process engages all four modalities in response to a learning demand, with the goal of forming a learning cycle which includes experience to observation and conceptualization to experimentation, back to experience. (Smith, 2001)  Kolb proposed that all four approaches must be incorporated with an individual learner tending to develop strength in one approach leading to prefer one of the four learning styles outlined in Kolb’s model.  (Kolb, 1984)

The four learning modalities include:  Accommodator, Converger,  Diverger, and Assimilator.  The Accommodator is strong in practical applications and includes sub modalities of concrete experience and active experimentation.  The converger is strong in practical hands-on application of theories and is a combination of abstract conceptualization and active experiment.  The Diverger is strong in imaginative ability and discussion and is a combination of concrete experience and reflective observation.  Lastly, the Assimilator is strong in inductive reasoning and in the generation of theories and is a combination of abstract conceptualization and reflective observation.  (Kolb, 2005)  In general, students tend to prefer the Diverging typology, followed by assimilating and accommodating, with converging learners favored the least. (Buaraphan, 2015)

Aim of the Study

In this study, we will measure students learning styles and analyze which learning style is best suited for learning in a discussion type modeling learning environment.  Discussion type teaching is an interpersonal talking type approach that is easily accessible by most teaching settings, albeit either as incorporation into current teaching or augmentation of teaching curriculums. The importance of this lies in the determination as to whether augmentation, or additional discussion type learning methodologies, will be helpful to all, or just specific learning style typologies.

The objective of this study is to investigate the effects of discussion type teaching on each learning style. This will be measured via the students’ academic achievement. Our sample will include 300 undergraduate students who register and attend courses in the social sciences. The population is acquired from undergraduate classrooms for students electing to participate at the beginning of the semester for extra credit.

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Each participant will complete a Kolb’s learning style questionnaire and be divided into one of four groups.  The reliability of Kolb’s questionnaire will be verified from other studies from primary literature via assessment of Cronbach’s coefficient scoring. In the beginning, the halfway point, and the end of the semester, the student will take an exam based on the content of the discussion group meetings. The data will be collected and analyzed, using descriptive and analytical statistics.

In consideration of the ethical constraints, the pre-test, midterm, and final exam scores will not affect the student’s course grades. However, only the extra credit commiserate with their level of participation will impact their final course grade.  The teaching platform will be a discussion based and include role modeling based on one of each of the four dominant learning styles.


We hypothesize that only the convergent and divergent learning style modalities will benefit from this additional discussion-oriented modeling teaching methodology, and the assimilative and accommodative will not benefit significantly.


  • Buaraphan, K. (2015). Grades 1-12 Thai Students’ Learning Styles according to Kolb’s Model. Asian Social Science, 11(10), 186. Retrieved 5 24, 2019, from
  • Kolb, A. Y., & Kolb, D. A. (2005). Learning styles and learning spaces: Enhancing experiential learning in higher education. Academy of management learning & education4(2), 193-212.
  • Kolb, D. A. (1984). The process of experiential learning. Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development. In : (pp. 20-38). Prentice-Hall, Inc..
  • Malavé, C., Belhot, R. V., & Figueiredo, R. S. (2003, November). New questions about learning styles. In 33rd Annual Frontiers in Education (Vol. 3, pp. 5-8). IEEE.
  • Pritchard, A. (2008). Ways of learning: Learning theories and learning styles in the classroom. Routledge.
  • Smith, M. (2001).  David A. Kolb on experiential learning. The encyclopedia of informal education, 2001.
  • Spoon, J. C., & Schell, J. W. (1998). Aligning student learning styles with instructor teaching styles. Journal of Industrial Teacher Education35, 41-56.


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