Teachers as Role Models for Students' Learning Styles

Article excerpt

According to social learning theory (Bandura, 1977, 1986), human behavior is transmitted largely through exposure to role models, that is, modeling phenomena. Teachers identified by students as models in an educational context may play a particularly important role in students' learning processes (Lashley & Barron, 2006). Teaching in Taiwan's technological and vocational hospitality education system has been conducted by means of collaborative teaching in technical courses to raise the level of expertise in students' practical skills. To this end these technical courses are usually taught simultaneously by both professionals (technical teachers) and academic instructors (lecturing teachers). Technical teachers focus mainly on demonstrating practical skills, whereas lecturing teachers focus mainly on illustrating the principles and theories underlying those skills.

Assessing which teaching model has the greater impact on students' learning styles when two role models are juxtaposed would throw light on the influences of teachers on students in the collaborative teaching of technical courses. It would be valuable to conduct further investigation on the effects of teachers' learning styles on students' learning styles because these have been found to be closely related to academic engagement and achievement (e.g., Al-Balhan, 2008; Cassidy & Eachus, 2000; Egel, 2009). Chiou and Yang (2006) used a concept they called modeling advantage to examine the relative influences of different types of teacher modeling on students' learning. Modeling advantage refers to the likelihood of students identifying with a particular teaching model over other competing models in a particular course, and was employed by Chiou and Yang to investigate the different styles of modeling used by technical teachers and lecturing teachers in collaborative teaching. Their findings showed that students perceived a greater modeling advantage for the technical teachers than for the lecturing teachers. However, Chiou and Yang employed a self-developed model to depict participants' learning styles. In this study, we adopted Kolb's (1984) learning styles framework, which has been used more widely in the field instead of the self-developed model used by Chiou and Yang. We also used the Revised Learning Styles Inventory II (Kolb, 1985) to assess students' learning styles because its psychometric properties are better than those of the scale developed by Chiou and Yang. More importantly, the consistency scores that address the differences in learning styles between students and their role identification serve as a more direct measure than does the correlation analysis conducted by Chiou and Yang.

To expand the external validity of findings gained in previous studies, we recruited hospitality undergraduates whose majors were different from those in the study by Chiou and Yang, who were students in culinary arts, baking technology, and management. We believed that the modifications we made for this study would afford a more precise picture of how hospitality undergraduates' learning styles would be influenced by the competing role models in collaborative teaching.

METHOD

PARTICIPANTS AND PROCEDURE

The participants for this study were 493 hospitality undergraduates (229 women, 264 men; aged between 19 and 25 years, M age = 20.8 years, SD = 1.5) who were taking technical courses taught by a collaborative method (number of classes = 12). The population was stratified into three demographic areas: Northern, Central, and Southern Taiwan. Through purposeful sampling, participants were recruited in collaboration with the teachers (n = 24) who were engaged in the collaborative teaching of technical courses at vocational and technological colleges. Participants' consent was obtained before data collection. This survey was approved by the Institutional Review Board of National Kaohsiung Hospitality College.

Students who were participating in the study completed the first survey (the pretest) at the beginning of their second semester in college. …