Changes to Students' Learning Processes Following Instruction on the Topic

By Clump, Michael A. | Journal of Instructional Psychology, December 2005 | Go to article overview
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Changes to Students' Learning Processes Following Instruction on the Topic


Clump, Michael A., Journal of Instructional Psychology


Previous research indicates that students' learning styles, as assessed by the Inventory of Learning Processes (ILP; Schmeck, Ribich, & Ramanaiah, 1977), change during college. Additionally, prior research indicates that teaching students about their learning styles enables them to change those learning styles. The current study investigated the effect of teaching students about effective learning processes in general to determine if this would alter their learning processes. Twenty-six Cognitive Psychology students completed the ILP 1 week before and 1 week following instruction on the topic of effective learning processes. The students' scores on the Deep Processing and Elaborative Processing subscales significantly increased from before instruction to alter instruction, which is substantial given the significant relations between scores on these subscales and academic achievement.

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Schmeck, Ribich, and Ramanaiah (1977) developed the Inventory of Learning Processes (ILP) to assess the manners in which students process information. The ILP measures students' learning style by examining the behaviors they employ to process the material, such as critically evaluating it, rewording class information and connecting it to their lives, focusing on facts and details, or using commonly prescribed study methods. The ILP focuses on how students process information in academic settings via such cognitive concepts as organization, elaborative processing, and depth- of-processing, in addition to encoding, storage, and retrieval strategies. The ILP is divided into four subscales: Deep Processing, Elaborative Processing, Fact Retention, and Methodical Study. The Deep Processing subscale assesses the extent to which students focus on higher-level concepts and critical evaluation of the information. The Elaborative Processing subscale measures a student's inclination to personally encode the information, through such methods as self-involvement. The Fact Retention subscale examines a student's proclivity to memorize facts and details. Finally, the Methodical Study subscale assesses how often a student studies and the student's usage of techniques in "how-to" study guides (i.e., those techniques frequently believed to lead to earning high grades) (cf., Schmeck et al., 1977).

The subscales of the ILP have been shown to relate to academic achievement, such as correlations with GPA, correlations with course grades, correlations with entrance examination scores, differences between students successful in a course and those not, differences between those students with higher GPAs and those with lower GPAs, and differences between honors students and non-honors students (Albaili, 1993, 1994; Battling, 1988; Carnicom & Clump, 2005; Gadzella, 1995; Gadzella & Baloglu, 2003; Gadzella, Ginther, & Bryant, 1997; Gadzella, Ginther, & Williamson, 1986; Gadzella, Ginther, & Williamson, 1987; Gadzella, Stephens, & Baloglu, 2002; Kozminksy & Kaufman, 1992; Lockhart & Schmeck, 1983, Miller, Alway, & McKinley, 1987; Miller, Finley, & McKinley, 1990; Schmeck & Grove, 1979; Watkins, Hattie, & Astilla, 1983; Westman, 1993).

Two very important studies investigated changes in students' scores on the ILP during their progression through college. Bartling (1988) used a longitudinal design to examine the changes in students' learning styles as measured by the ILP. Bartling found that students in general significantly increased their utilization of Deep Processing and significantly decreased their application of Methodical Study as they progressed through college. Jakoubek and Swenson (1993) used a full cross-sectional design to compare the learning styles of college students. They found significantly different scores between the student cohorts on the Deep Processing, Methodical Study, and Elaborative Processing subscales. In a similar line, but not using the ILP, Busato, Prins, Elshout, and Hamaker (1998) found longitudinal changes in learning styles for students with a significant increase on the meaning directed learning style.

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