Assessing differences in learning styles: age, gender and academic performance at the tertiary level in the Caribbean
Keywords:learning styles, millennials, age, gender, academic performance
AbstractThe purpose of this research was to examine the differences in students’ learning styles based on age and gender, and the relationships between learning styles and academic performance in a Caribbean tertiary level institution. The paper sought to make a contribution in the literature related to measuring student learning styles, including a focus on the learning styles of millennials and the relationship to factors that affect performance outcomes. The exploratory study incorporated both qualitative and quantitative data collection methods, that is, use of both a questionnaire and 3 focus groups. A purposive sample included students from a Caribbean tertiary level institution. 670 useable questionnaires were returned directly to the researcher by the participants for a response rate was 63 percent comprising 163 males (24.3 percent) and 507 females (75.7 percent). millennials comprised the majority of the sample totalling 509 participants (376 females and 133 males). Statistical analyses included t-tests, ANOVA and multivariate regression. The findings suggest that Collaborative learning was the most preferred learning style based on the mean scores of Grasha-Riechman rating norms. The results of t-tests indicated significant Gender differences on dependent, participant, independent, and competitive learning styles. There were significant age differences for participant, collaborative, independent, avoidant and competitive. Independent and Avoidant learning styles were significant predictors of students’ academic performance. Students with more predominant Independent learning styles reported higher Grade Point Averages (GPAs), whereas students with more predominant Avoidant learning styles reported lower GPAs. The paper concludes by suggesting that more consideration needs to be given to teaching styles that match students’ learning styles, especially the millennials and the need for further research.