Learning Styles Inventory – in the Asian context, Ritu Dangwal and Sugata Mitra, J. Psychological Researches, 42 (3) p.138-145 (India), 1998. Construction and validation of a Learning Styles Inventory test for use in India Ritu Dangwal and Sugata Mitra R&D Centre NIIT Limited 8 Balaji Estate Kalkaji Extension New Delhi 110 019 India 1998 Abstract The importance of learning styles for increasing the effectiveness of the learning process is discussed. It is pointed out that the use of learning style "aware" teaching-learning material is crucial to the heterogeneous learning profiles of today. The design, construction and validation of an adaptation of Kolb's original learning styles inventory test is described. Learning Styles Learning styles have been the focus of considerable study (S. Montgomery, 1996; Snow, 1989; Mumford & Honey, 1996). They suggest that learning depends upon many personal factors. It is also suggested that everyone has a distinct learning style. The term "Learning Style" has been defined as the composite of characteristic cognitive, affective, and physiological factors that serve as relatively stable indicators of how a learner perceives, interacts with, and responds to the learning environment (Keefe, 1979). It is obvious that the process of learning is critically important and understanding the way individuals learn is the key to educational improvement. One of the current challenges in teaching, particularly distance teaching over media such as the Internet, is trying to meet the needs of heterogeneous students. It is expected that styles of learning, if accommodated, can result in improved attitudes toward learning and an increase in productivity, academic achievement, and creativity. It is further supposed that the most effective learning occurs when the learning activities most closely match the learners' prefered style. Similarly, just as different learning styles require different learning techniques, different learners with varied motivations also require different learning styles. According to Cronbach & Snow (1977), learning styles could be used to predict what kind of instructional strategies or methods would be most effective for a given individual and learning task. In this connection it is also interesting to take note of the past 20 years work at the Saint Louis University on the relationship between psychological type and various aspects of the educational process. Some fascinating relationships were observed between student performance, learning patterns and such variables as academic aptitude, college achievement, and choice of subjects. Learning style models In an attempt to provide a framework for the growing number of different learning styles theories, different models have been propounded. Personality dimensions assess the influences of basic personality on preferred approaches to acquiring and integrating information. Models stressing personality include Witkin's (1954) and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (Myers,1978). Information processing is the individual's preferred intellectual approach to assimilating information which include Schmeck's (1983)and Kolb's (1984) models. Social interaction addresses how students interact in classrooms that include Reichmann and Grasha (1974) models. Multidimensional and instructional preference address the individual's preferred environment for learning and encompass the Human Information Processing Model, Keefe (1989)and Dun & Dun(1978) models. These models are similar because they stress the importance of identifying and addressing individual differences in the learning process. The most commonly used inventory is the one proposed by Kolb (1984). It proposes a theory of experiential learning that involves four principal stages: concrete experiences (CE), reflective observation(RO), abstract conceptualization (AC), and active experimentation (AE). The CE/AC and AE/RO dimensions are polar opposites as far as learning styles are concerned and Kolb postulates four types of learners (divergers, assimilators, convergers and accomodators) depending upon their position on these two dimensions. For example, an accommodator prefers concrete experiences and active experimentation (AE, CE). Kolb's explanation of Learning Styles Concrete Experience (CE): Needs time to digest information. Needs tangible, "hands on" approaches. Will probably not volunteer to ask or answer questions spontaneously. Works well in individual tutorials and one-on-one situations. Should do a lot of reading to build the background knowledge that can facilitate understanding. Reflective Observation (RO): Takes learning personally. It is important for this type to like a course and to find a personal link with it. Usually, needs to know on how to understand material without feeling compelled to agree with it. Abstract Conceptualization (AC): Connects information with prior learning. Learns through linking new knowledge with previous knowledge and experiences. Sees the big picture. May have difficulty with organizing information, finding focus, or attending to details. In writing essays, may appear to be "all over the place". Active Experimentation (AE): Has a need for immediate feedback. Learns best by asking questions. May jump ahead of the instructor and interrupt with questions. Is often an academic rebel, i.e. likes to "buck the system" or look for exceptions to the rules. Works well with group tutorials and group study. NIIT's involvement with Learning Styles NIIT is one of the largest educational organisations in the world. It deals with over 200,000 students through around 500 classrooms spread over most of the world. It also operates one of the worlds first virtual universities, the NetVarsity (www.niitnetvarsity.com), where it addresses around 2000 heterogeneous learners. It is also one of the world's largest producers of Computer Based Training (CBT) materials. It is vital for NIIT to address the diverse learning needs of its students through the effective methods. To do so, its R&D Centre operates with the following assumptions: People learn in a variety of ways, and different people prefer to learn things in different ways. Courses should be designed to deal with different learning styles. Information about learning styles can help faculty become more sensitive to the differences students bring into the classroom. And can serve as a guide in designing learning experiences that match students' styles. Identifying a student's style and then providing instruction consistent with that style contribute to more effective learning. Incorporating some of these assumptions in a recent model, NIIT has proposed an instructional design strategy for the development of learning materials for use over the Internet (Mitra, 1996). Indianization of Kolb's Inventory India, with a population of close to one billion, represents a microcosm of heterogeneous learners in the world. The adaptation of Kolb's inventory to the Indian context is considered vital to Indian education. In this paper, at attempt to adapt Kolb's Inventory in the Indian context is described. Test Standardization One can diagnose specific areas of a person's assets and liabilities through "psychometry". Psychometry are the techniques for quantitative assessment of human behavior through psychological tests. A psychometric test is a standardized instrument designed to measure objectively one or more aspects of a total personality by means of sample of verbal or non-verbal responses, or by means of other behavior. The fundamental purpose of standardization is to establish "reliability" and "validity" of the test. Reliability refers to the ability to yield consistent results from one set of measures to another; it is the extent to which the obtained test scores are free from such errors. Validity, on the other hand, refers to the degree to which a test measures what it purports to measure, when compared with accepted criteria. The first essential quality of a valid test is that it be highly reliable. Another important issue is whether a test is "culture-fair" or not. Since every person must develop in an environment of some kind, his skills, information, repertory of responses, modes of thinking, and so on, are to some extent culturally determined. Some psychological tests are more culture-fair than others. Methodology A questionnaire to determine learning inventory was devised. The inventory underwent pilot runs and during each run, modifications were incorporated. The methodology applied remained constant. For each pilot run: a new sample was taken the sample size varied from 100 to 300 people Limitations As there was not much literature available on Kolb's Inventory, not much information could be gathered regarding the Inventory. Such as: 1. What statistical treatment was given by Kolb while deriving the 36 items. 2. The rationale behind choosing the various buffer items. 3. The meaning of the various adjectives, as meanings can be interpreted differently. 4. The reliability and validity of the Inventory. Kolb's Inventory: There are 36 items that measure the learning style of the individual. Four dimensions namely, CE, RO, AC, AE (explanations of which have been stated above) measure these 36 items. Each dimension is measured by nine items. However, out of these 9 items, 3 items are buffer items. Hence, 24 items measure the 4 dimensions. (Appendix 1). The pattern of scoring is simple, you total the scores for the 4 dimensions and then apply the formula (AC - CE) & (AE - RO), thereby plotting the score on the graph. The four types of learners are: Analytical learner, Precision learner, Imaginative learner and Dynamic learner. After each pilot run, certain changes were incorporated for e.g. in the 1 st run, an attempt was made to simplify the items such as the word "discriminatory" was replaced by "critical". In the 2nd phase, the scoring was changed, in the 3rd phase, similar modifications were made. In all the phases, the scores were statistically treated on SPSS and it was observed that there was no one to one match between the original test by Kolb and our adaptation. A qualitative report on the feedback given by people suggested that they found it difficult to understand the meaning of the adjectives and in relating them to their present situation. In other words, the adjectives were vague. This aspect indicated that there are cultural differences in the original inventory and that it is not a culture-fair test. To maintain uniformity and comprehension, it was felt that if a statement replaced the adjectives, there would be better understanding and less inconsistency in comprehending the meaning of the adjectives. An attempt was made to procure some reference material and interestingly enough it was found that Piaget had talked of a Model on learning & cognitive development that was similar to Kolb's Model. This model also infiltrated in the Jung's psychological types. Piaget's work had identified 4 major stages of cognitive growth that emerge from birth to about the age of 14-16 yrs. In the first stage (0-2)yrs, the child is predominantly concrete & active in his learning style. This stage is called the sensory-motor stage. Learning is actively enactive through feeling, touching, & handling. Representation is based on action – for example 'dig a hole'. The greatest accomplishment of this period is the development of goal-oriented behavior. Learning occurs primarily through the association between stimulus and response. In the second stage (2-6)yrs, the child retains his concrete orientation but begins to develop a reflective orientation as he begins to internalize actions, converting them to images. This is called the representational stage. Learning is now predominantly iconic in nature, through the manipulation of observations and images. He is captivated with his ability to collect images & to view the world from different perspectives. The third stage (7-11)yrs, the intensive development of abstract symbolic powers begins. Learning in this stage is governed by the logic of classes & relations. Thus, in contrast to the child in the sensory-motor stage whose learning style was dominated by accommodative processes, the child at the stage of concrete operations is more assimilative. He relies on concepts & theories to select & give shape to his experiences. Piaget's final stage of cognitive development comes with the onset of adolescence (12-15)yrs. In this stage, the adolescent moves from symbolic processes based on concrete operations to the symbolic processes of representational logic, the stage of formal operations. Enactive Learning Concrete phenomenalism Iconic Learning Active Internalized learning Egocentricism reflection Inductive learning Abstract constructionsim Hypothetico deductive As one can observe, this brief outline of Piaget's cognitive development theory identifies those basic developmental processes that shape the basic learning process of adults. Human beings are a learning species, and our survival depends on our ability to adapt not only in the reactive way of fitting into the physical & social worlds, but in the proactive ways of creating & shaping those worlds. All the models above suggest the idea that learning is by its very nature a tension and conflict-filled process. New knowledge, skills, or attitudes are achieved through confrontation among four modes of experiential learning. Learners, if they are to be effective, need four different kinds of abilities – concrete experience abilities (CE), reflective observation abilities (RO), abstract conceptualization abilities (AC), and active experimentation abilities (AE). That is they must be able to involve themselves fully, openly, and without bias in new experiences (CE). They must be able to reflect on and observe their experiences from many perspectives (RO). They must be able to create concepts that integrate their observations into logically sound theories (AC), and they must be able to use these theories to make decisions and solve problems (AE). Jung further worked upon Piaget's model and devised The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) which is a widely used psychological self-report instrument to assess people's orientation (Myers, 1962). Correlations between individual's scores on MBTI and the LSI should give some empirical indication of validity of relationships between Jung's personality types and the learning styles proposed above. Both the LSI and MBTI instruments are based on self-analysis and report. In a more systematic study of 220 managers ad M.B.A students, Margerison and Lewis (1979) investigated the relations between LSI and MBTI scores using the technique of canonical correlation. They found a significant canonical correlation of .45 (<.01) between the two sets of test scores. When the resulting pattern of psychological types is plotted on the two dimensional LSI learning space, relationships between the Jungian types and learning styles become clear and consistent with our predictions (fig 1.2) Concrete experience accomodation (sensation) Convergence Abstract Conceptualization (Thinking) active Experimentation divergence (feeling) assimilation (Intuition) reflective observation Fig 1.2 The relationship between LSI and Jung's Psychological Types. We have already acknowledged and examined to some extent the indebtedness of experiential learning theory to Jung's theory of psychological types. Now we examine more specifically the relations between Jung's types and the four basic learning styles. Jung's typology of psychological types includes four such pairs of dialectically opposed adaptive orientations, describing individuals' (1) mode of relation to the world (introversion/extroversion) (2) mode of decision making (perception/judgement), (3) preferred way of perceiving (sensing/intuition) and (4) preferred way of judging (thinking/feeling). If we now associate the Jungian personality type with the four basic learning style, it is as follows: accommodator is the dynamic learner diverger is the imaginative learner assimilator is the analytic learner converger is the precision learner Accomodator Divergence (Dynamic) (Imaginative) Converger Assimilator (Precision) (Analytical) Keeping in view the compatibility of Jung's psychological model and Kolb's model (which is an extension of the Piaget's model), the present learning style was changed and made descriptive in nature. There were 52 items out of which 26 items measured the AC,CE continuum and 26 items measured the AE,RO continuum. For example: The respondent then checks on either a) or b) whichever statement is applicable to him. Likewise, he checks on all the 52 items. This test was run over approx. 100 people and the scores were statistically treated to study the reliability and validity of the test. Reliability: The overall reliability for the 52 items was found to be Alpha .66 which is relatively high. When split half Alpha taken for the 26 items, Alpha part 1 was observed to be .57 and Alpha part 2 was observed to be .56, which again was found to be relatively high. Thus, the reliability of the test was observed to be very high. Validity: When inter-dimensional validity was studied it was observed that AE vs. RO was observed to be –1.000 (< .01 level) and AC vs. CE was observed to be – 1.00 ( < .01 level). Thus, the bipolar dimensions were found to be significantly negatively correlated. In other words, if an item on AC is high then the same item would be low on the CE dimension and the same applies to the AE vs. RO continuum. There is negative correlation between the bipolar dimensions, thereby indicating a high inter-dimensional validity. If we now examine the relationship between Learning Styles and Jung's Psychological Types we find that the dynamic quadrant or the accomodator is negatively correlated with the analytical learner or the assimilator [ACRO and AECE are significantly negatively correlated = -1.00 (< .01 level)]. Similarly, the precision learner or the converger is negatively correlated with the imaginative or diverger [CERO and AEAC are significantly negatively correlated = -1.00 (<.01level)]. If we examine the correlation between the four dimensions, AC and AE is negatively correlated (-.2024), AC and RO is positively correlated (.2024), RO and CE is negatively correlated (-.2024) and CE and AE is positively correlated (.2024). This implies that even though the correlations are not significant there are certain items between the dimensions that are overlapping while there are other items between the dimensions that are not overlapping. Conclusion It is expected that the new test will be useful for determining the learning styles of Indian students and thereby assist with the development of learning style enabled materials for use in Indian classrooms and the Internet. Acknowledgements Several discussions with persons involved with instructional design assisted in the development of this test. Discussions with A. K. Jalaluddin and Sushmita Mitra were particularly useful. Financial assistance from NIIT is gratefully acknowledged. : Reference: 1. Charles C. Schroeder (1993). New Students - New Learning Styles. University of Missouri-Columbia. 2. Cronbach, L & Snow, R. (1977). Aptitudes and Instructional Methods: A Handbook for Research on Interactions. New York: Irvington. 3. Dun ,R., & Dun, K. (1978). 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