Academic journal article e-Journal of Business Education and Scholarship Teaching

Nationality as a Determinant of Learning Styles: Comparing Marketing Students from Bulgaria and the USA

Academic journal article e-Journal of Business Education and Scholarship Teaching

Nationality as a Determinant of Learning Styles: Comparing Marketing Students from Bulgaria and the USA

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

More than ever, college students vary in terms of nationality and cultural backgrounds, which raises the question: do these cultural differences translate into different learning styles? This study attempts to investigate how marketing students from different countries adopt certain learning styles using two samples of undergraduate students from the USA and Bulgaria, examining separate aspects of learning style preferences based on Kolb's Learning Styles Inventory. Results indicate that only one out of the four Kolb's learning styles dimension is different in the two samples, and even though students from the two countries differ in terms of learning styles, the majority seem to prefer the assimilation and convergence styles.

Keywords: Marketing students; cultural variability; learning styles.

Introduction

While learning is one of the most universal of human activities, the ways in which knowledge is gained can differ across cultures (Hofstede 1997; Joy and Kolb 2009). The learning styles of higher education students differ as a consequence of the constraints different cultures place on human behavior (Katz 1988; Pratt 1992; Abramson, Keating, and Lane, 1996, DeVita 2001, Holtbrugge and Mohr, 2010, Hays and Allinson, 1988). Previous research also recommends the investigation of the effect of culture on learning styles as dictated by globalization and the expansion of the multicultural classroom (e.g., Auyeung and Sands, 1996; Holtbrugge and Mohr, 2010). For example, the number of international students enrolled in colleges and universities in the United States totaled 582,984 in the 2006/07 academic year, according to the Open Doors report, published annually by the Institute of International Education (IIE) with support from the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. In addition, in an attempt to capture additional students, multiple universities have opened foreign-based campuses, e.g. the Texas A&M university campus in Qatar, and INSEAD's in Singapore.

Realistically, marketing educators cannot be expected to develop different teaching styles to accommodate different learning styles of their students. However, educators can provide various learning experiences in the classroom, so that various learning styles are addressed. To do so, teachers and university administration have to be aware of the differences in learning style preferences of students with various cultural backgrounds.

Many educators realize that in order to increase the engagement in the classroom, they have to accommodate different learning styles especially when the composition of the student body is multicultural. This study invesigates how marketing students from different countries adopt certain learning styles using two samples of undergraduate students from the USA and Bulgaria. Marketing educators can use this information to understand how to diversify their teaching styles and as a result to engage all students and provide an inclusive approach to the process of education. The paper will examine and identify differences in separate aspects of learning style preferences based on Kolb's Learning Styles Inventory (LSI) across two different cultures. The results are of potential importance (1) for marketing educators in curriculum development and pedagogy and (2) for practitioners and researchers interested in the learning style preferences for students with different cultural backgrounds.

Kolb's Typology of Learning Styles

Kolb's (1984) experiential learning cycle, which has been extensively applied in the marketing education literature (e.g., Petkus 2000; Hagenbuch 2006), involves four stages of experiential learning: concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualization, and active experimentation. A person with concrete experience abilities should be able to engage fully, openly, and without bias in new experiences. …

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