Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Accommodating all learners: critical inquiry and learning styles in the LIS classroom This paper is by Denice Adkins and Christopher Brown-Syed. It was presented at the 2002 IFLA Conference in Glasgow.

From the Introduction:

Most graduate programs in Library and Information Science (LIS) require that students complete anumber of mandatory “core” courses before proceeding to elective courses. Some of these courses lendthemselves to hands-on exercises, computer laboratory work, or solitary learning activities such as literaryresearch. Others demand group work, role playing, or other interpersonal activities. Teaching methodsfrequently include multiple instructional modes, from the grand lecture, audiovisual or Web-assistedpresentations, lab time, and group work. Many involve class presentations, with increasing instructorpreference for computer-produced slide shows.

Which of these delivery methods are likely to be more useful for incoming LIS students, and have theirlearning styles changed along with technology? Education and LIS literature published fifteen to twentyyears ago (Ford, 1985; Johnson & White, 1981; Jonassen & Hodges, 1982; Stein, Hand, & Totten, 1986;Stein & Totten, 1983; Varlejs, 1985) has suggested that LIS students tended to be less people-oriented, tobe more interested in theoretical or abstract ideas, to get meaning from seeing information rather thanhearing it, and to possess strong values systems. Regardless of location, LIS students on the whole tendedto exhibit similar learning styles. Moreover, those styles were dissimilar to students in other fields, suggesting that LIS education attracted a particular type of student. Nonetheless, the advent of technologyand the Internet have considerably changed the LIS profession and the education of LIS students(Holland, 2000; Poole & Denny, 2001). The literature further suggests that accommodating students’particular learning styles might improve the learning process. Since not all students feel comfortableusing every mode, making students aware of their own learning styles might encourage them to plan theirstudy time, stave off anxiety about stressful activities, and seek extra help if necessary.

This paper presents results of a recent study designed to identify learning styles in LIS students of thetwenty-first century, and to determine whether information-oriented students are more likely than acontrol group to exhibit sequential and visual learning styles. This paper will also discuss the results of aclassroom experiment designed to make students aware of differences in learning styles and the need toaccommodate multiple learning styles when creating learning activities in practice.

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