Chen, Jones & Xu

The Association Between Students' Style of Learning Preferences, Social Presence, Collaborative Learning and Learning Outcomes

Clement Chen, University of Michigan-Flint
Keith T. Jones, University of North Alabama
Shawn Xu, University of Wyoming


Differences in styles of learning have become important considerations at all levels of education over the last several years. Examining college students’ preferred style of learning is useful for course design and effective instructional methods. Using the Felder-Silverman Index of Learning Styles (ILS), we investigate how students’ styles of learning preferences differ in accounting courses delivered in traditional and online formats. We further investigate the interactions between students’ learning style preferences and collaborative learning with regard to perceived learning effectiveness and satisfaction. The results indicate some differences between genders and between accounting vs. nonaccounting majors. For instance, females lean more toward a verbal and sequential learning approach than do males, who lean more toward a visual approach. Perhaps consistent with the reputation of accounting as “rulebased,” accounting majors are somewhat more likely than are nonaccounting majors in general to prefer a sequential learning approach, and they are less likely to prefer a more “global” look at a problem. We also find that the dimensions of learning styles interact with the extent of collaborative learning in affecting the students learning outcomes. The findings have implications for both full-time educators and practitioners because firms also provide considerable amounts of continuing education for their professionals in either a classroom or online setting.


styles of learning, learning outcomes, collaborative learning, social presence, accounting education, Felder-Silverman Index of Learning Styles

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