Educational Administration, Department of

 

Date of this Version

Spring 4-12-2011

Comments

A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Educational Studies (Educational Leadership and Higher Education), Under the Supervision of Professor Richard Hoover. Lincoln, Nebraska: April, 2011

Copyright 2011 Robert C. Tripp

Abstract

As the Hispanic population increases in North Carolina the number of college graduates of Hispanic descent should follow. Although a gradual increase in Hispanic students attending state universities has been seen, the increase has not kept pace with the increases seen in the general population. Additionally, the numbers of those achieving the baccalaureate degree have not increased. There have been a number of research projects in recent years that have documented qualitative reasons why Hispanic students have been reluctant to go to college and the factors that contribute to their success and failure at institutions of high education. Cultural influences on learning preferences have been theorized as one such factor. This project sought to establish a quantitative analysis of learning styles for Hispanic students as compared to non-Hispanic students.

The researcher used quantitative methods to study learning styles as measured by the Index of Learning Styles (ILS) developed by of Richard Felder and Barbara Soloman (1991). Undergraduate students from four state universities in North Carolina were studied for a relationship between learning styles and ethnicity, and the interaction of gender and ethnicity.

No relationship between ethnic identification and learning style was established; there was no significant difference in learning styles for Hispanic and non-Hispanic students. However, the interaction of ethnicity and gender showed an effect; Hispanic males and non-Hispanic females appeared to be more similar in degree of learning style preferences as compared to non-Hispanic males and Hispanic females.

The lack of substantial differences in learning styles between Hispanic and non-Hispanic learners and the interaction effects described above highlight the complex and individual nature of learning styles. This research suggested that while learning styles may be a useful tool for self-assessment and personal understanding their use in broader programming needs to be undertaken with caution. The diverse nature of students and their learning styles necessitates planning, programming and teaching that is equal in diversity of approach.

Advisor: Richard E. Hoover