Date of this Version
Curry's (1983) model of learning style framework with Claxton & Murrell's (1987) adaptations was used to study the profile of the non-major in a college biology course. The purpose of the study was to provide empirically derived data in both a qualitative and quantitative format of the non major (both successful and unsuccessful students) to improve the course. Over 600 students were administered the Learning Style Profile [(LSP) (National Association of Secondary School Principals) Indicator (MBTI) (NASSP) and the Myers-Briggs Type (Consulting Psychologists Press)] to determine the students' learning styles as a predictor for Success in the course. The MBTI data were compared to published (McCaulley, 1977) profiles of other populations: biology majors, science majors and biologists. Using a logit model, Introversion (I) and spatial ability predict success with a probability of 0.67 (p<.0005). The profile of the male non-major in biology which is most different from male science majors, by MBTI profile, is ESFP (Extroverted, Sensing, Feeling, and perceiving) (p<.OOl). ESFPS and ENTPs occur more frequently among unsuccessful students (p<.OOl). ISTJs (p<.05) and ISFPs (p<.Ol) occur more frequently among successful students. INTJs and INFPs are more numerous among both biology majors and biologists than among non-majors. Students who are most likely to score below 60% on the computer-managed testing system are E_P (Extroverted and Perceiving) (p<.OOl). The only LSP subscale which showed a difference between students show were successful and those who were not was spatial ability (p<. 01) . A three-factor interaction (p<. 05) was observed when amount of analytic skill, question type (low, high, and image), and correct vs incorrect answers were submitted to an ANOVA on 96 students and six questions. Items which measure analytic ability were classified as spatial ability items. A 9 factor varimax rotation factor analysis for the LSP established the six item analytic scale. Canonical correlation shows that the LSP and the MBTI are related at a level of 0.5 for the first canonical variate, with verbal risk contributing most to the relationship between the LSP and the MBTI, with an explained variance of 24%. Recommendations for course improvement, following the McComb (1985) Instructional Systems Design
(ISD) model include providing: opportunities for discussion, for "hands-on" experiences to concretize abstract concepts which may require spatial ability, less reliance on recall of memorized information, less than 92% of the course evaluation on the computer (multiple choice items). Other recommendations include providing remediation in some skills, such as analytic and spatial.