Screencasts and Learning Styles

Screencasts and Learning Styles

Rui Alberto Jesus (CESPU, Instituto de Investigação e Formação Avançada em Ciências e Tecnologias da Saúde, Portugal)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7365-4.ch013
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Learning styles appear to explain something that is obvious: people learn in different ways. In this chapter, the emphasis is on the different sensory modalities by which students prefer to perceive stimuli from the outside. Professors can use several didactic materials to deliver instruction to their students (particularly in e-learning). One of these is screencasts, which are digital recordings of computer screen output, including audio voiceover. If well-planned and recorded, screencasts can include text, images, diagrams, audio, video, and simulations, thus aiming to reach several learning modalities. This chapter explores the relation between screencasts and sensory preferences (measured by the VARK questionnaire) in a sample of nursing students. The data was analyzed with descriptive and inferential statistics methods. The majority of these students were multimodal (61.4%), as opposed to unimodal (38.6%), and screencasts were found to be more appealing to the former, and face-to-face classes were more appealing to the latter.
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What Are Learning / Cognitive Styles?

One of the pioneers of the term ‘cognitive styles’ was Gordon Allport (1937), which defined them as the usual or typical way of an individual processing information. In other words how he perceives, thinks and remembers information, and how he uses it to solve problems. Since then, there have been many researchers who have dedicated themselves to study this concept, with the consequent identification of different cognitive and learning styles. For example, the work of Messick (1976) identified 19 different dimensions of cognitive styles (field dependence versus field independence, global versus analytic, inductive versus deductive, visualizer versus verbalizer, etc.), some of which are referred in the Additional Readings section.

Before moving on, it should be clarified that in this chapter, like in most of the area's texts, the terms ‘cognitive styles’ and ‘learning styles’ are used to describe the same concept, although the first one is more used in the context of academic research, while the latter one is more related to their practical applications. Moreover, the term ‘cognitive styles’ is more connoted with a bipolar characteristic (e.g.: a student is either inductive or deductive), while the term ‘learning styles’ does not require the existence of two poles (e.g.: one student may be visual and kinesthetic at the same time).

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