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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Exploratory Study of Preferred Learning Styles of Maine Family Forest Owners
by Doran, Kevin D., D.Ed., Nova Southeastern University, 2012, 102; 3707392
Abstract (Summary)

The purpose of this exploratory study was to provide natural resource educators with an understanding of Maine family forest owners’ preferred learning styles. The problem was that despite a legislative mandate to provide information and education to Maine family forest owners, students, and adults in a manner that leads to informed decisions regarding their forests, limited research existed about instructional best practices to accomplish this mandate. A major tenet of andragogy, the art and science of teaching adults, is that content geared to the specific learning needs of an individual results in more effective education. By determining preferred learning styles of family forest owners, this exploratory study was able to provide natural resource educators with one strategy to build upon andragogical assumptions, develop effective educational materials, improve instructional practices, and satisfy the legislative mandate.

In Maine, 88,000 individuals and families own 25% of its private forestland, totaling about 4.5 million acres. Decisions are being made by family forest owners that will have long-term consequences on future generations. This study helped align instructional best practices with learning styles in a way that will lead to informed decisions about generational transfer as well as forest management.

This study determined preferred learning styles of Maine family forest owners by using Kolb’s Learning Style Inventory. This instrument determines the way people learn and how they deal with ideas and day-to-day situations. Research with the instrument identified four learning styles that were associated with approaches to learning: diverging, assimilating, converging, and accommodating.

Using a Microsoft Access random number generator, 800 participants were randomly selected from the database of 60,000 landowners. Selected participants received Kolb’s Learning Style Inventory, two demographical questions, and 11 Likert-scale questions about the various ways participants liked to learn about their land. Data from each instrument were entered into Microsoft Excel and then imported into the SPSS software package for analysis.

Results indicated that 32.4% of Maine family forest owners who responded to the survey preferred the converging learning style, 32.4% preferred assimilating, 18.9% preferred diverging, and 16.2% preferred accommodating. Further analysis revealed that 83% of converging learners were male, and 16.7% were female; 83.3% with an assimilating learning style were male, and 16.7% were female; 83.3% with an accommodating learning style were male, and 16.7% were female; and 57.1% with a diverging learning style were male, and 42.9% were female.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Bowser, Karen D.
School: Nova Southeastern University
School Location: United States -- Florida
Source: DAI-A 76/10(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Instructional Design, Pedagogy, Adult education, Agricultural education
Keywords: Adult development, Andragogy, Family forest owners, Forestry, Generational cohort learning, Learning style
Publication Number: 3707392
ISBN: 978-1-321-82059-1
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