Reaching Diverse Learners by Offering Different Course Delivery Methods

Reaching Diverse Learners by Offering Different Course Delivery Methods

Aisha Shawana Haynes (University of South Carolina, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5724-1.ch003

Abstract

Students possess various learning styles and do not respond equally to the same instructional methods. The purpose of this study was to determine if differences exist in learning styles between students who select a traditional course delivery method versus a technology-enhanced course delivery method. Participants included 113 males and 195 females who were enrolled in a College of Business Principles of Marketing course for non-business majors at the University of South Carolina. The students who were enrolled in the course completed an online questionnaire including the Grasha-Reichmann student learning style scale (GRSLSS) and demographic questions. The findings are relevant for a better understanding of why students select a course delivery method.
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Introduction

Educational institutions may be failing to address the learning needs and styles of students (Blashki, Nichol, Jia & Prompramote, 2007); therefore, many students are feeling disenfranchised from education. Learners today have a variety of learning styles (Cameron & Pagnattaro, 2017) and diverse learning styles should be addressed through various instructional techniques (Cheng & Chau, 2016). Successful educational institutions are distinguished because their faculty understand how their students learn (Alumran, 2008). Chickering and Ehrmann (1996) noted how there are many paths to learning as students bring different talents and learning styles to institutions of higher education.

Learning environments are continuing to evolve with blended, flipped, technology-enhanced and synchronous and asynchronous online courses. Having a flexible approach to student learning styles and embracing technology in face-to-face and online courses is a necessity (McCormack, 2015). According to Lawrence (2015), life has changed for many students with the rise of technology. A plethora of educators attempt to use the same traditional course delivery format in which they were educated. Incorporating a variety of instructional methods in higher education environments help students succeed by connecting prior learning, assisting with motivation and incorporating higher-level thinking skills within courses (Brown, Ernst, Clark, DeLuca, & Kelly, 2017). As noted by Crews, Stitt-Gohdes, and McCannon (2001),

“A lack of research in learning and instructional styles would attribute to the reason for a mismatch between the teacher’s instructional style and the student’s learning style” (p. 6).

Many undergraduate students today describe their current learning environment as boring and irrelevant (Swett, 2016). Therefore, it is essential to investigate the design of the learning process. As a result, instructional designers are redesigning more technology-enhanced and distance education courses (Oblinger & Oblinger, 2005). Distance education allows students who have different backgrounds, learning styles, abilities and interests to receive an education (Bayrak, Aydemir, & Karaman, 2017). According to Leahy, Gaughran and Seery (2009),

Investigating and identifying learning styles provides the opportunity for educators to match the design of instruction to the preferred style of learning of students, thus enriching the learning experience. (p. 31)

For this study, a technology-enhanced course delivery method is one where students access learning environments synchronously via Adobe Connect Professional or asynchronously through the Blackboard Learning Management System.

The objective of this chapter is to provide educators more insight about the different learning styles of students and if differences exist in the learning styles of students who select a traditional course delivery method versus a technology-enhanced course delivery method. The results of this study can assist instructional designers, curriculum designers, instructional technologists, faculty and administrators with the development of new curriculum, course offerings at the university level, planning of courses, recruitment of students, utilization of classroom space, and has the potential to boost faculty evaluations.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Grasha-Reichmann Student Learning Style Scale (GRSLSS): Learning style scale, consisting of 60 items, created by Anthony Grasha and Sheryl Reichmann to determine the classroom participation of college students.

Instructional Design: The process of determining the best methods to design, develop, and deliver instructional materials to bring desired changes in student learning and skills.

Technology-Enhanced Course Delivery Method: Delivery method where students can access class lectures either at the time of the lecture via web conferencing or asynchronously through a learning management system.

Instructional Technology: Technologies such as multimedia, software, computers, video/web conferencing, social networking, blogs, and wikis to support learning.

Information Technology: The use of technologies, including software and hardware, to manage information.

Traditional Course Delivery Method: Delivery method in which an educator lectures to students in a face-to-face format with regular class meetings.

Learning Styles: A preferred method of individuals to gain knowledge.

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