The Relationship between Learning Styles/ Multiple Intelligences and Academic Achievement of High School Students

By Snyder, Rebecca Finley | High School Journal, December 1999 | Go to article overview

The Relationship between Learning Styles/ Multiple Intelligences and Academic Achievement of High School Students


Snyder, Rebecca Finley, High School Journal


Traditionally, teaching in this country has been what is termed "frontal teaching" or "chalk and talk" (Goodlad, 1984). This mode of teaching has not been successful for all of our students as is evidenced by the dropout rate of 50% in our high schools (Carbo, 1991). Also, for those that do graduate, only 5-8% are capable of high-level work as compared to 15-25% for some European countries (Carbo, 1991). In the last 20-25 years, educators have become more aware of the research that has been done by cognitive and educational psychologists in the area of learning styles and multiple intelligences. Using the work of these researchers, an instrument was constructed and used to study the relationship between learning styles and academic achievement of high school students. In addition to studying these relationships, gender differences were investigated. The major results of the study suggest that the majority of our high school students are Tactile/Kinesthetic and Global learners.

Introduction

The United States has a unique system of public education in that we try to educate all of our students equally from preschool through high school (Webb, Metha, & Jordan, 1995). Most European and Asian countries have extensive tracking systems of education in which they test the students at certain levels and track them to certain schools. In Japan, for instance, there is tremendous pressure on students to score well on the test at the end of elementary school so that they can attend the best lower secondary school. This is repeated as they are tested to go to the upper secondary schools and to the universities. Those that graduate from the best universities are rewarded with the best work positions. The pressure is so intense that parents are often forced to send them to "cram" schools in the evening to prepare the students for the examinations (Cummings, 1980 & Kanaya, 1988).

In the United States, we try not to track our students so that all have the opportunities for the same education (Webb, Metha, & Jordan, 1995). This is, however, very difficult because with our diverse population in society at large, we have a diverse population of learners. This diverse population of students is becoming more diverse with the movement of special educators for total inclusion of all special education students in to the regular education classes (Lieberman, 1985). To be successful in educating all of our students, we need to be aware of their individual learning styles and multiple

intelligences. To be more effective teachers of this diverse population of learners, teachers need concise and efficient ways to learn more about their students' learning styles and multiple intelligences.

Carl Jung (1927) was the father of learning-style theory in that he noted the differences in the way students perceived, made decisions, and interacted. In the past 20-25 years, educators, have become more aware of the research of cognitive and educational psychologists in the area of individual differences, learning styles, and multiple intelligences. The research of these psychologists in the area of learning styles, (Grasha & Reichmann, 1975; Hill, 1976; Briggs & Myers, 1977; Dunn & Dunn, 1978; Dunn & Price, 1979; Klob, 1981; Gregorc, 1982; McCarthy, 1982; Butler, 1984; Silver & Hanson, 1995; & Silver, Strong, & Perini, 1997), have provide educators with additional insights into how to work with our diverse population of learners. Gardner (1983) and Gardner & Hatch (1989), "in their effort to rethink the theory of measurable intelligence embodied in intelligence testing" (Silver, Strong, & Perini, 1997, p. 22) studied the work of cognitive and educational psychologists and developed their theories of multiple intelligences. The basic difference between learning style theories and multiple intelligences theories is that learning styles are concerned with the differences in the process of learning and multiple intelligences center on the content and products of learning. …

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