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Theses & Dissertations


Learning Style Preference, Sense of Classroom Community, Gender, Age, and Previous Experience within Computer-Mediated Instruction (CMI)

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Daniel Rudolph Smith (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Bert Goldman

Abstract: The purpose of this study was to determine if differences existed in sense of classroom community for computer-mediated instruction (CMI) students in terms of learning style (defined as a preference for independent/individualistic or social/cooperative learning). Differences in sense of social community were investigated, as well as differences in sense of learning community. Differences in sense of classroom community were also investigated in terms of gender, age group, and extent of previous successful CMI experience. In addition, the study sought to identify any differences that existed in learning style preference with respect to gender, age, and previous successful CMI experience. An online survey consisting of 52 questions was provided to a population of 616 students enrolled in 49 CMI courses offered by a rural community college in the southeastern United States. The survey embodied the Learning Preference Survey for Students (LPSS) to measure learning style preference, the Classroom Community Scale (CCS) to quantify perception of social and learning community, and several demographic questions. The 360 useable responses resulted in a 58.4% return rate. To provide a point of triangulation for the quantitative survey and to identify pertinent patterns and themes which might clarify or expand the quantitative data, telephone interviews were conducted with 20 of the survey respondents, ten representing extremely independent learners and ten representing highly social learners, as measured by the LPSS. Using scores from the two subscales of the LPSS, participants were separated into four learning style preference groups: (1) highly independent, low social learners (HILS), (2) highly social, low independent learners (HSLI), (3) learners who expressed strong preference for elements of both learning styles (HIHS), and (4) learners who expressed low preference for elements of both learning styles (LILS). Membership in one of these four learning style preference groups constituted the first independent variable in the study. Other independent variables were gender, age group, and experience with CMI. Dependent variables were sense of social community and sense of learning community from scores on the CCS subscales. Learning style preference scores on the two LPSS subscales also acted as dependent variables in determining their correlations and relationships with age, gender, and previous experience with CMI. The combined results of the quantitative and qualitative methods of this study suggested that not only was there a significant difference in the perception of social community in the CMI environment by learners possessing different learning preferences but, also that the perception was a self-fulfilling phenomenon. These CMI learners perceived the social community which they themselves created by their own actions - actions which developed out of their own personal learning preferences. Quantitative data also revealed no significant difference in perception of learning community among learning style preference groups. Qualitative themes also reinforced satisfaction with the learning taking place and overall satisfaction with CMI by the sample population. Other significant findings were the lack of any indication of gender difference in perception of social community in CMI, and the lack of a female proclivity for social learning. Females in this sample also displayed a significantly higher perception of learning community than their male counterparts. No differences in social or learning community were revealed based on ethnicity or previous experience with CMI, but non-traditional aged students (26+) displayed a significantly higher sense of learning community than traditional aged college students (18-25). However, no direct correlation between age and learning style preference was discovered. Neither was there an indication of any relationship between learning style preference and previous experience with CMI. Themes extracted from the telephone interviews suggested a strong preference for a high degree of structure in the CMI curriculum, copious and timely instructor feedback, and flexibility in assignment due dates.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2008
Online instruction, Distance learning, Social interaction, Sense of Community, Social Presence, Psychological factors, Interaction
Web-based instruction--Psychological aspects
Social interaction
Educational technology--social aspects
Cognitive styles