Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

A Causal-Comparative Study of Generational Differences in Learning Style Preferences among Adult Learners in the United States
by Shepherd, Jennifer, Ed.D., University of La Verne, 2017, 184; 10267988
Abstract (Summary)

Purpose. The purpose of this quantitative study was to compare the generational cohorts of Baby Boomer, Generation X, and Generation Y/Millennial, as defined by Howe and Strauss (2007), in terms of learning style preferences in the United States.

Methodology. A non-experimental, retrospective, causal-comparative research design was used to determine whether the independent variable, generational cohort, was correlated with the dependent variable, learning style preference, by comparing Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Generation Y/Millennials. Participants were recruited through an online survey and invited to participate via email to electronically complete the Felder-Soloman Index of Learning Styles (ILS), a 44-item assessment of learning style preference. Results were analyzed using non-parametric chi-square tests of independence in SPSS software.

Findings. The chi-square analyses did not result in a significant difference between the learning style preferences of the generational cohorts. The cohorts were similar on the four dimensions of learning style preferences. On a macro level, the generations were predominately represented by preferences for reflective, sensing, visual, and sequential learning styles. Generation Y’s preference for active and visual learning was higher than the other generations. On a micro level, Baby Boomers and Millennials were the most similar (identical on 12 metrics), followed by Generations X and Y (identical on seven metrics), and by Baby Boomers and Generation X (identical on three metrics).

Conclusions. The variety of learning style preferences and the similarities among the sample inform decisions about the design and delivery of training. A variety of learning style preferences are present in any generation, and organizations should be cautious about adopting stereotypes that lack empirical evidence to support assumptions about generational differences in learning style preferences.

Recommendations. Focusing on generational differences is not necessary when designing and delivering training. Organizations will benefit from applying adult learning theory and evaluating the learning style preferences of their unique training audiences. Future studies should include a larger sample size from a global population, include Generation Z, and use additional or different learning style assessments.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Liu, Sunny
Commitee: Haque, MD, Pohopien, Laura
School: University of La Verne
Department: LaFetra College of Education
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 78/10(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Instructional Design, Education, Adult education
Keywords: Adult learning, Generational cohort, Generational differences, Instructional design, Learning style preferences, Training delivery
Publication Number: 10267988
ISBN: 978-1-369-79072-6
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