Title

A test of two alternative cognitive processing models: Learning styles and dual coding.

Campus

Gainesville

Publication date

2018

Publisher

Sage

Book or Journal Information

Theory and Research in Education

Keywords

Auditory, dual coding, learning styles, memory, retention, visual

Abstract

This study tested two cognitive models, learning styles and dual coding, which make contradictory predictions about how learners process and retain visual and auditory information. Learning styles-based instructional practices are common in educational environments despite a questionable research base, while the use of dual coding is less ubiquitous, and thus measured examination of the two methods has implications for practical application. The study involved 204 university students who were surveyed on their preferred learning style and then presented with information that they were prompted to process via either imagery or linguistic means. The results showed there was no significant interaction effect between learning style and condition, suggesting the most basic prediction of the learning styles hypothesis should be rejected. In a regression analysis, none of the four learning styles (visual, auditory, read/write, or kinesthetic) predicted students’ retention of the material. However, there was a highly significant main effect of condition with those in the visual condition retaining twice as much information as those in the auditory condition regardless of learning style, a result that strongly supports dual coding theory. Implications of the findings would suggest that learning styles instruction is an ineffective method for teachers to employ, and that, instead, incorporating principles of dual coding would have a much greater benefit to student learning.

Author Biography

Josh Cuevas is a professor and educational psychologist at the University of North Georgia. Bryan Dawson is a professor of psychological science at the University of North Georgia.

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A test of two alternative cognitive processing models: Learning styles and dual coding.

This study tested two cognitive models, learning styles and dual coding, which make contradictory predictions about how learners process and retain visual and auditory information. Learning styles-based instructional practices are common in educational environments despite a questionable research base, while the use of dual coding is less ubiquitous, and thus measured examination of the two methods has implications for practical application. The study involved 204 university students who were surveyed on their preferred learning style and then presented with information that they were prompted to process via either imagery or linguistic means. The results showed there was no significant interaction effect between learning style and condition, suggesting the most basic prediction of the learning styles hypothesis should be rejected. In a regression analysis, none of the four learning styles (visual, auditory, read/write, or kinesthetic) predicted students’ retention of the material. However, there was a highly significant main effect of condition with those in the visual condition retaining twice as much information as those in the auditory condition regardless of learning style, a result that strongly supports dual coding theory. Implications of the findings would suggest that learning styles instruction is an ineffective method for teachers to employ, and that, instead, incorporating principles of dual coding would have a much greater benefit to student learning.