Perceptital and Motor Skills, 1986, 63, 1243-1250. @ Perceptual and Motor Skills 1986 LEARNING STYLE A N D INTELLIGENCE OF READING DISABLED STUDENTS1 RICHARD SINATRA, LOUIS PRIMAVERA. AND WILLIAM J. W A K E D St. John's University Summary.-This study examined the relationship between elements o f the Learning Style Inventory and various scales of the WISC-R for reading disabled students. Previous research generally suggests that reading disabled students have preferences that tap the visual-spatial domain and have higher WISC-R Performance Scale and subtest scores than Verbal Scale and subtest scores. Subjects with IQs of 9 0 or better o n either the Verbal o r Performance Scsles of the WISC-R and a consistency score of 75 or better o n the inventory were selected. Contrary to what might be expected, data generally showed a nonrneaningful pattern of correlations between scales of the Learning Style Inventory and WISC-R Performance-type functioning. However, as an important part of the validation of the inventory, lack of association between the two can be interpreted as support for its construct validity. In recent years, the concept of learning style has emerged as a shaper of American educational policy. Rather than focus on subject matter or curriculum mode, learning style refers to preferences of mode for receiving and learning information (Keefe, 1979; Kirby, 1979). Perrone and Pulvino (1977) suggest that the assessment of an individual's scyle allows one to discover the representational systems and learning preferences that aid learning strengths. While Messick ( 1976), Claxton and Ralston ( 1978), and Kirby ( 1979) examined a number of models and instruments for assessing style, many investigators have used various Wechsler Intelligence Scale profiles of both disabled and academically proficient students to form hypotheses about their learning and cognitive styles (Galvin, 1981). In a review of 20 studies using the WISC-R, Kaufman (1981) noted that the Verbal and Performance scales reflected greater variability for learning disabled subjects than for normals. Learning dlsabled subjects have been equal to or superior to normal functioning youngsters on visuospatial tasks (primarily the Performance Scale) but decidedly inferior to normals on tasks requiring linear sequencing-the domain of the Verbal Scale (Rugel, 1974; Vance & Singer, 1979). A number of studies have examined the relationship between elements of the Learning Style Inventory (Dunn, Dunn, & Price, 1978) and achievement in children at various grades from elementary to high school. Kaley 'Detailed copies of results and data analyses are available from the first author: Richard Sinarra, Ph.D., Chairman. St. John's University. School of Education & Human Services, Division of Human Services & Counseling, - Marillac Hall. Grand Central and Utopia Pkwys, Jamaica, NY 11439. 1244 R. SINATRA, ET AL. ( 1979), for example, found that for sixth grade children, reading achievement significantly predicted learning style better than IQ. Further, she reported that the better the child's reading, the more independent is the style of learning, whereas the lower the child's reading, the more dependent is the style of learning. Similarly, Murray ( 1980) compared learning styles of 122 poor and good achievers in reading at Grades 7 and 8. Murray's results showed that the better readers were more responsible, more self-motivated, and preferred to learn alone while the poorer readers were generally less motivated, in need of more strucmre, and preferred adult-guided learning. This study further supports an earlier finding by Wingo (1980) that preference for learning alone was the only statistically significant variable on that inventory to predict high reading achievement for 176 eighth grade students. More recently, Price, Dunn, and Sanders ( 1981) found that for 85 elementary school children, high achievers in reading were significantly more selfmotivated, persistent, and reliable and required little food and no mobility as measured by the inventory than low achievers in reading. Carbo (1983) then showed that poor readers in Grades 2 through 8 had stronger tactile and kinesthetic preferences than good readers and corroborated earlier findings that the poor readers were less responsible and less self-motivated. Such studies indicate that the learning styles of children identified as high reading achievers in Grades 3 to 8 generally show high preference for inventory elements such as self-motivation, liking to learn alone, and being persistent and responsible. Children identified as low reading achievers, on the other hand, generally score low on elements such as motivation, persistence, and responsibility, and high on requiring food intake and mobility, and need for learning tactually and kinesthetically. N o study, however, examined the relationship between elements of the inventory and subtest scores of the WISC-R as a measure of intelligence. Instead, most studies group students by intelligence, and then examine differences across these groups with regard to a number of other variables. Cody (1983) for example, divided 240 students from grades 5-12 into Average (IQ of 100-119), Gifted ( I Q of 130-139), and Highly Gifted ( I Q of 145 and above) groups, and compared them for learning style preference and hemisphericity. In general, compared to students of average IQ, both gifted and highly gifted students were more motivated and demonstrated a right-hemisphere processing style. Students of average IQ, on the other hand, preferred a quiet environment, warm temperature, afternoon study, and showed a strong need for structure. In addition, psychoeducational research has shown that disabled readers have distinct learning characteristics that favor a visuospatial, simultaneous READING DISABILITY, LEARNING STYLE, IQ 1245 Friedman, 1975; mode of processing (Symmes 8: Rapoport, 1972; Guyer Witelson, 1976, 1977; Kaufman, 1979), as measured by various performance subtests of the WISC-R and other tasks of visuospatial abilities while low achievers in reading indicate a similar learning-style preference consistently observed across studies of style (Carbo, 1983; Price, et al., 1981; Murray, 1980; Kaley, 1979). The present study examined the relationship betv~eenelements of the Learning Style Inventory and standard scores on various scales of the WISC-R for students of average IQ but readin3 disabled. More specifically, those inventory elements reflecting high need for structure, mobility, and need for tactual, and kinesthetic learning along with low need for self-motivation, persistence, responsibility, and independent learning were expected to correlate better than chance with the Performance IQ and standard scores on performance subtests of the WISC-R. Slcbjects From a sample of 159 reading-disabled subjects of average IQ who were referred to the reading clinic of a large urban university, 90 boys and 35 girls were selected to participate in the study. Of the 125 subjects, 6 were black, 6 were Hispanic, and 113 were Caucasian. These subjects met the minimum criteria of at least an IQ of 90 or better on either the Verbal or Performance scales of the WISC-R and a consistency score of 75 ( M = 72.6, SD = 38.5) or better on the Learning Style Inventory. WISC-R means, standard deviations, and ranges are presented in Table 1, while these data for the inventory are presented in Table 2. Ninty-nine subjects ranged from Grade 3 to 10 ( M = 5.74, SD = 2.63) while 26 subjects came from ungraded classrooms. All subjects had an average age of 11.9 yr. (SD = 2.2, range = 9.6). Their average achievement results as measured by the Wide Range Achievement Test was 4.89 (SD = 1.88, range = 10.0) in Reading, 4.25 (SD = 1.62, range = 8.4) in Spelling, and 4.55 (SD = 1.44, range = 10.1) in Arithmetic ( N = 103). The average standard scores for the three WRAT subtests were 90 for Reading, 85 for Spelling, and 82 for Arithmetic. Their instructional reading level as determined by a number TABLE 1 MEAN, STANDARD DEVIATION, AND RANGEOF WISC-R Measures Verbal IQ Performance IQ Full Scale IQ SCORES: 125 BOYSAND GIRLS M SD Range 96.5 5 98.35 96.90 10.93 11.07 9.34 56.00 59.00 48.00 1246 R. SINATRA, ET AL. TABLE 2 MEAN,STANDARD DEVIATION, AND RANGE OF ELEMENTS OF LEARNING STYLE INVENTORY: 125 BOYSAND GIRLS Measures M SD Range Noise Light Warmth/Temperature Design Motivation Persistence Responsible Structure Learning Alone Peer Orientation Authority Figure Present Learn in Several Ways Auditory Visual Tactile Kinesthetic Requires Intake Eveni ng/Morning Late Morning Afternoon Needs Mobility Adult Motivated Teacher Motivated 1.43 2.58 3.06 1.83 4.45 2.97 2.64 2.40 4.68 2.14 1.40 1.41 3.03 1.50 4.50 4.71 2.34 2.70 1.02 3.26 2.47 3.83 3.56 1.48 1.39 1.32 1.05 0.80 0.95 1.74 1.12 2.10 2.04 1.20 1.00 1.05 0.85 1.70 1.34 1.96 1.75 1.06 1.40 1.74 0.47 0.75 8.00 5.00 6.00 4.00 5.00 5.00 5.00 4.00 7.00 6.00 6.00 4.00 5.00 3.00 6.00 6.00 6.00 6.00 5.00 5.00 5.00 4.00 4.00 of oral and silent reading assessments was near the beginning, Grade 4 ( M = 4.23, SD = 1.88, range = 8.5). The instructional reading level was based on both assessment of comprehension and word recognition and was a more realistic measure of each student's reading ability than just the word knowledge score indicated by the WRAT Reading. Furthermore, about 25% of the subjects had been retained in one or more grades in school because they had reading problems or related deficits in the language arts. Materialr The WISC-R for children contains three scale scores based on six Verbal subtests, and six Performance subtests, which can be administered to children between ages 6 yr., 9 mo. and 16 yr., 11 mo. In this study, the Mazes subtest was not administered, and only subjects above 8-0 yr. who were administered the Coding B subscale were included. This allowed a consistency with the inventory which was standardized on students in Grade 3 and above. For IQ scales, see Wechsler estimates of test-retest reliabilities on the WISC-R ( 1974). READING DISABILITY, LEARNING STYLE, IQ 1247 The Learning Style Inventory ( 1978, 1981) by Dunn, Dunn, and Price is a self-report measure of learning style based on the selection of "True" or "False" choices for each of the 104 items. The inventory has an easily administered format, an easy reading level, and can be paced for students with poor reading habits and short attention spans. Students indicate their preferences or nonpreferences for 23 elements of learning style grouped into four areas of environmental, emotional, sociological, and physical stimuli. For estimates of validity and reliability see Dunn, Dunn, and Price (1981) and Kirby ( 1979). The ranges of reliabilities are reported separately for each of the 23 elements for 3669 males and females in Grades 3 through 10: Sound (.71 to .82), Light (.62 to .77), Warmth (.65 to .70), Formal Design (.54 to .65), Motivated/Unmotivated (.27 to .48), Adult Motivated (.37 to .56), Teacher Motivated ( 3 9 to .63), Persistent (.07 to .25), Responsible (.72 to .76), Structure ( 6 1 to .71), Learning Alone (.80 to .83), Peer Motivated Learning (.74 to .81), Learning with Adults (.57 to .66), Learning Through New Ways (.26 to .38), Auditory ( 3 2 to .41), Visual (.04 to .22), Tactile (.59 to .73), Kinesthetic ( 3 1 to .70), Requires Intake ( 3 2 to .84), Late Morning ( 3 3 to .63), Afternoon (.59 to .69), Evening (.01 to .15), and Needs Mobility ( 3 8 to .93). Correlations with scales (elements) of this inventory with low reliability are to be interpreted with caution. RESULTS For the 125 subjects, correlations of the WISC-R Full Scale IQs, the Verbal Scale IQ and the six Verbal subtest scaled scores, and the Performance Scale IQ and the five Performance subtest scaled scores with the 23 elements that compose the four stimulus areas of the inventory were calculated. Of 23 possible correlations, for the WISC-R Full Scale IQs and the elements of the inventory two ( 9 % of the total) were significant, but these values were very low and mean~ngless (correlations ranged from -.I8 to .16). See Table 3 of WISC-R Full Scale, Verbal and Performance results with the inventory's 23 elements. In addition, of 161 possible correlations, of WISC-R Verbal IQs and the Verbal subtest scaled scores with the elements of the inventory showed that 22 or 14% of the total were significant. Again, these correlations were quite low, ranging from .14 to 33. Moreover, of 138 possible correlations, of WISC-R Performance IQs and the Performance subcesc scaled scores with the elements of the inventory gave values for 27 ( o r 20% of the rotal) which were significant. Once again, the range of these correlations was from -.I4 to .43, although five were above .30. Those subjects who performed better on Picture Completion had greater preference for Sound ( r = .39, p < .01) but were unmotivated (r = - .37, p < .01). Those subjects who performed better on Object Assembly also had a 1248 R. SINATRA, ET AL. TABLE 3 PEARSON CORRELATIONS AMONGWISC-R VERBAL,PERFORMANCE, AND FULL SCALE IQS A N D ELEMENTS OF LEARN~NG STYLE INVENTORY ( n = 125) Measures Sound Light Verbal .038 ,104 Performance ,132 -.008 Full Scale ,112 ,068 Warmth Formal Design Motivated/Unmotivated Persistent Responsible Structure Learning Alone Peer Oriented Learning with Adults Learning Several Ways Auditory Visual Tactile Kinesthetic .Requires Intake Evening Late Morning Afternoon Mobility Adult Motivated Teacher Motivated greater preference for Sound ( T = .43, p < .01), were unmotivated ( r = -.36, p < .01) and preferred to learn with adults ( T = .31, p < .01). I n general, however, there were surprisingly few and generally weak correlations between the Performance IQs and the Performance subtest scaled scores, which supposedly measure visuospatial processing, and the preference elements of the inventory that tap the visuospatial domain. In other words, inventory preferences for modality strengths poorly correlated with WISC-R performance-type functioning. Although the study did not provide meaningful correlations between elements of the inventory and certain scores from the WISC-R, the correlations can be interpreted as supporting the construct validity of the inventory, i.e., the inventory is a measure of preference for learning not for intellectual performance, and as such, there should be little or no correlation between scores on the inventory and the WISC-R scores. According to Campbell and Fiske READING DISABILITY, LEARNING STYLE, I Q 1249 (1959), demonstrating discriminant validation of a test is as important as demonstrating convergent validation because the former, in effect, helps to define the boundary of a new construct relative to preexisting tests or measures of constructs from which it was intended to differ. As an important part of the validation of the inventory, that there was little to no correlation between lends greater the scores on the inventory and the subtests of the WISC-R, credence to the construct validity of learning style preferences. On the other hand, for a sample of reading disabled youngsters, who have shown a preference for visuospatial learning (Bannatyne, 1971; Symmes & Rapoport, 1972; Witelson, 1976, 1977) and who have generally scored higher on the Performance scales than on Verbal scales of the WISC-R (Symmes & Rapoport, 1972; Kaufman, 1981), there may be some correlation between strong positive or strong negative preferences on the inventory with certain Because inventory scores were not scales and subtests of the WISC-R. separated into high and low preference categories, the present srudy does not necessarily preclude some meaningful relationship between certain elements of the inventory and Performance scores of the WISC-R. REFERENCES BANNATYNE,A. 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