A case study of learning styles in biology

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<ul><li><p>This article was downloaded by: [University of Strathclyde]On: 02 December 2014, At: 05:54Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954Registered office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK</p><p>European Journal of ScienceEducationPublication details, including instructions for authors andsubscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/tsed19</p><p>A case study of learning styles inbiologyJohn R. Baird a &amp; Richard T. White ba Melbourne State Collegeb Monash University , Victoria, AustraliaPublished online: 24 Feb 2007.</p><p>To cite this article: John R. Baird &amp; Richard T. White (1982) A case study oflearning styles in biology, European Journal of Science Education, 4:3, 325-337, DOI:10.1080/0140528820040311</p><p>To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0140528820040311</p><p>PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE</p><p>Taylor &amp; Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all the information(the Content) contained in the publications on our platform. However, Taylor&amp; Francis, our agents, and our licensors make no representations or warrantieswhatsoever as to the accuracy, completeness, or suitability for any purpose of theContent. Any opinions and views expressed in this publication are the opinions andviews of the authors, and are not the views of or endorsed by Taylor &amp; Francis. Theaccuracy of the Content should not be relied upon and should be independentlyverified with primary sources of information. 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EDUC., 1982, VOL. 4, NO. 3, 325-337</p><p>A case study of learning styles in biology</p><p>John R. Baird, Melbourne State College and Richard T. White,Monash University, Victoria, Australia</p><p>Summaries</p><p>EnglishThe process of acquisition, and the nature and extent of retention, of a hierarchy ofintellectual skills in genetics were examined for each of three adults by case study.Task materials, based on a skill hierarchy and interview protocol, were designed topromote learning with understanding. Various theoretical models and schemes weredevised to identify and monitor learning processes and changes in cognitivestructure of the learner. Additional information was obtained on the stability andgeneralizability of learning processes, and the nature and extent of retention andaccessibility of learned material. Evidence was obtained for qualitative differences inlearning process and outcome. Results indicate evidence for two different learningstyles which involve different specific learning strategies and which differ in theextent of incorporation of new material into the learner's cognitive structure, and onthe subsequent retrieval of this material. One learning style is considered par-ticularly effective for both incorporation and retrieval. The theoretical basesdeveloped in this study may prove useful for identifying changes in cognitivestructure of, and strategies employed by, a learner as he or she progresses throughsimilar intellectual skill learning sequences, and thus for remediation by a teacher ofgaps or deficiencies in the learner's strategies or cognitive structure. This procedureshould facilitate progression by the learner to a thorough understanding of theterminal skills.</p><p>DeutschGegenstand der Untersuchung ist der Proze des Erwerbs einer Hierarchieintellektueller Fhigkeiten im Bereich der Genetik sowie die damit verknpftenBehaltensleistungen, jeweils auf drei Erwachsene bezogen, die in der Form vonFallstudien in die Untersuchung einbezogen werden. Die zu lsenden Aufgabenfuen auf einer hierarchisierten Fhigkeitsskala und einem Interviewprotokoll. DieAufgaben wurden so formuliert, da sie bestmglich geeignet waren, Lernen undVerstehen als kombinierten Vorgang zu frdern. Verschiedene theoretische Modelleund Schemata wurden errtert, mit denen Lernprozesse und Vernderungen imBereich kognitiver Strukturen des Lerners identifiziert werden knnen.Zusatzinformationen ber die Stabilitt und Generalisierbarkeit von Lernprozessenwurden erzielt. Dies trifft auch zu auf die Behaltensleistungen und die Eignung(Zugnglichkeit) der Lernmaterialien. Offensichtlich zeigt diese Untersuchung an,daB es qualitative Unterschiede in den Lernprozessen und den Lernergebnissen zuverzeichnen sind. Die Ergebnisse sprechen fur zwei unterschiedliche Lernstile,welche verschiedene spezifische Lernstrategien involvieren und welche bezglichdes Ausmaes der Einbeziehung neuer Materialien in die kognitiven Strukturen desLerners sich unterscheiden ebenso wie in Hinsicht auf die nachfolgende Nutzung</p><p>0140 5284/82/0403 0325 $02.00 1982 Taylor &amp; Francis Ltd</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity o</p><p>f St</p><p>rath</p><p>clyd</p><p>e] a</p><p>t 05:</p><p>54 0</p><p>2 D</p><p>ecem</p><p>ber </p><p>2014</p></li><li><p>326 RESEARCH REPORTS</p><p>der Materialien. Ein Lernstil wird als besonders wirksam in Hinsicht auf dieEinbeziehung neuer Materialien und der nachfolgenden Nutzung dieser Materialienbetrachtet. Die theoretischen Grundlagen, die dieser Studie unterliegen, mgen alsntzlich gelten, wenn es darum geht, Vernderungen kognitiver Strukturen zuidentifizieren. Angesprochen sind solche kognitiven Strukturen und Strategien, dieder Lernende durch vergleichbare intellektuelle Lernfhigkeiten undLernsequenzen entwickelt. Dem Lehrer bietet die Kenntnis solcher kognitivenStrukturentwicklungen eine Mglichkeit, Lcken oder Probleme, die whrend desLernens auftauchen, zu identifizieren und zu beheben. Diese Prozedur sollte dazubeitragen, da der Lerner Fortschritte beim grndlichen Verstehen solcherFhigkeiten erzielt.</p><p>FranaisL'objet de cette tude est le processus d'acquisition, ainsi que la nature et l'tenduede la retention d'une hirarchie de capacites intellectuelles dans le domaine de lagntique, se rapportant a trois adultes, sous forme d'tudes de cas. Les problemes arsoudre, bass sur une analyse hirarchique des ces capacits et sur un protocole desinterviewa, furent choisis de telle sorte qu'ils puissent favoriser le processusd'apprentissage et de comprehension. Differents modles thoriques et schmasfurent discuts pour identifier et contrler les processus d'apprentissage et leschangements intervenant dans les structures cognitive du sujet. On a obtenu desinformations supplmentaires sur la stabilit et la gnralisation des processusd'apprentissage, sur la nature et l'tendue de la retention, ainsi que sur l'accs aumatriel d'apprentissage. Cette recherche montre clairement des diffrences quali-tatives dans les processus d'apprentissage et leurs rsultats. Elle rvle aussi deuxstyles d'apprentissage differents et qui different aussi bien au niveau de l'tendue del'assimilation d'un nouveau materiel aux structures cognitives existantes du sujet,qu'au niveau de l'utilisation ultrieure de ce materiel. Un des styles d'apprentissageest considr comme particulirement effectif pour l'assimilation d'un nouveaumateriel et pour sa rutilisation. Les bases thoriques dveloppes dans cette tudepeuvent se rvler utiles pour identifier les changements survenus dans les structurescognitives et les stratgies qu'emploie le sujet lorsqu'il dveloppe des squencesd'apprentissage et des capacites intellectuelles similaires. Elles peuvent aussi treutiles pour l'enseignant, car de telles connaissances peuvent l'aider remdier auxlacunes ou aux problemes qui surviennent au niveau des strategies d'apprentissageou au niveau des structures cognitives. Cette procedure devrait faciliter le sujet aprogresser dans la comprehension profonde de telles capacites.</p><p>Introduction</p><p>Although case studies rarely allow estimation of the proportions of apopulation which belong to particular types, they are useful in identifyingthe types that do exist. An important instance is in the study of learningprocesses and styles. Case studies can reveal differences in the manner inwhich people acquire new information. Once these individual differenceshave been identified, we can consider which styles are most desirable and candevise instruction to promote them. Large-scale experiments can then beemployed to evaluate the effectivenesss of this instruction. The initial casestudy is clearly a vital element in this sequence.</p><p>The study described here is an analysis of the styles of learning exhibitedby three adults as they progressed through a learning programme in genetics.</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity o</p><p>f St</p><p>rath</p><p>clyd</p><p>e] a</p><p>t 05:</p><p>54 0</p><p>2 D</p><p>ecem</p><p>ber </p><p>2014</p></li><li><p>CASE STUDY OF LEARNING STYLES 327</p><p>It was designed to test three hypotheses, which, it can be seen, are of adifferent style from those which are testable in large group experiments.</p><p>Hypothesis 1: that, for a given instructional programme, differentlearners will show similar general sequences in the development of theircognitive structure. This hypothesis is tested by proposing a logicalsequence of acquisition and linking of concepts, propositions, and rules,and then monitoring conformity to it.</p><p>Although the general sequence may be similar for all learners, priorknowledge might enable a learner to skip particular stages in the sequence orto acquire particular concepts, propositions, or rules in a manner which hasnot been predicted; hence,</p><p>Hypothesis 2: that differences in the detail of cognitive linking sequenceswill be found. These differences may be due, in part, to differences inprior learning of the content material, but are independent of eachindividual's learning style.Hypothesis 3: that all subjects acquire intellectual skills by a learningprocess which involves a finite number of identifiable cognitivestrategies.</p><p>These hypotheses arose from consideration of the learning paradigmshown in figure 1, which is an extension of the three-term relationInstruction-&gt;Memory^&gt; Performance proposed by Gagne and White (1978) toinclude the knowledge, strategies, personality, and attitudes of the learnerwhich bear on the processes of acquiring new information.</p><p>Instruction-based</p><p>variables</p><p>\</p><p>Learningprocesses</p><p>Memoryoutcomes</p><p>Performanceoutcomes</p><p>Learner-based</p><p>variables</p><p>Figure 1. Paradigm of learning</p><p>The model implies that instruction- and learner-based variables dictate,either directely or by their interaction, the learning processes which occur.Learning processes here mean the application of particular strategies inadding or modifying knowledge. These processes result in changes to thelearner's cognitive structure, which in turn determines performance,whether in response to external cues such as questions or observations ofaspects of the environment, or to internal ones generated in thinking.</p><p>In order to guide the progress and the interpretation of each case, theeducational phenomena under study need to be defined. For this study, oneaspect is a detailed model to direct the actions, observations, and interpret-ations that the experimenter will make. The outline shown in figure 1</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity o</p><p>f St</p><p>rath</p><p>clyd</p><p>e] a</p><p>t 05:</p><p>54 0</p><p>2 D</p><p>ecem</p><p>ber </p><p>2014</p></li><li><p>3 2 8 RESEARCH REPORTS</p><p>therefore has to be elaborated: types of instruction-based and learner-basedvariables must be listed, strategies must be proposed, and possible forms ofcognitive structure must be described.</p><p>Relatively little detail will be given here for instruction and learnervariables, because the nature of the three hypotheses in this investigationrequires most attention to be given to spelling out details of strategies andcognitive structure. We will say only that instruction-based variables wereconceived of as including the mode and style of presentation; the amount ofguidance given; the amount, type, and inherent difficulty of the subjectmatter; the sequence of presentation; the nature and extent of reinforcement;and the general level of stress which is aimed at. Learner-based variablesinclude existing cognitive structure; relatively stable psychological traits andpersonality attributes; and more transient affective states.</p><p>Content</p><p>Strategies and cognitive structures are more easily defined in relation tospecific content, so the subject matter of the investigation and the instruc-tional materials are described first.</p><p>The subject matter in the investigation centred on thirteen skills in thefield of genetics, which were obtained by deriving a learning hierarchy(Gagne 1962) leading to the skill: 'For a monohybrid cross involving anunmodified dominance/recessiveness relation between autosomal alleles,given selected phenotypes works out a valid genetic model consistent withthe data.' Genetics was chosen because of its relative unfamiliarity to peoplewho lack an extensive background in biology, and because it contains clearlydefinable skills.</p><p>Items to test each of the thirteen skills were then developed, and a set offifty information statements necessary for the acquisition of the skills wasprepared. The statements were organized in groups, each group connectedwith a skill, in an order consistent with a logical upward progression throughthe hierarchy. Each statement was written in a way which attempted tomaximize its potential meaningfulness in terms of what had come before, andthus to enhance understanding.</p><p>The information statements were combined with items testing thethirteen skills to form a learning programme.</p><p>Theoretical bases</p><p>In conjunction with preparation of the programme, four theoretical baseswere prepared for the analysis of learners' performance: a sequence ofcognitive links was proposed; a procedural analysis of each test item wasmade; possible cognitive strategies were defined; and three sequential stagesof learning were proposed.</p><p>Hypothesized model for the cognitive linking sequence</p><p>The hypothesized cognitive linking sequence is a step-by-step developmentof cognitive structure, contingent upon each new piece of information, testitem, and oral question. The sequence leads to a final 'cognitive map' which</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity o</p><p>f St</p><p>rath</p><p>clyd</p><p>e] a</p><p>t 05:</p><p>54 0</p><p>2 D</p><p>ecem</p><p>ber </p><p>2014</p></li><li><p>CASE STUDY OF I.EAKNINC; STYI.KS 329</p><p>is proposed to result from completion of the programme, and which is shownin figure 2. This map is a network of propositional relations between conceptsand rules. This style of representation of how information is stored inmemory is consistent with most modern theories (e.g., Bower 1975; Glass,Holyoak and Santa 1979). The hypothesized sequence of develop...</p></li></ul>


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