Does the preferred learning style of those training for a career in design and technology differ depending on age?

2007-06-05T13:29:53Z (GMT) by E. Stephanie Atkinson
Many universities now enrol students on their degree programmes from a broad age range with a variety of entry qualifications. This has caused a shift from an elite to a mass higher education system that has affected aspects of teaching and learning. Much research has been carried out into the relationship between preferred learning style (PLS) and effective learning. There is evidence to suggest that a large proportion of those in a specific profession have the same PLS and that there is no overall gender difference in respect of PLS. However, little seems to be known regarding age differences in the PLS of those studying for a given profession, This paper briefly discusses existing PLS research and explains the choice of tool used to determine the PLS of the sample. It then reports on the findings of a small-scale study of 153 design and technology students (aged between 18 and 54) studying at three different universities in England. The results support the belief that there is a relationship between PLS and specific professions. However, they also indicate that the spread of PLS ratios lessen the older the students become, and that there are differences in PLS in terms of a student’s age and gender. The paper concludes that there are implications for teaching strategies if materials are to meet the needs of all students in mixed aged cohorts even if they are studying for a given profession. The findings would suggest that further research is required to identify ways in which classroom practice could be enhanced as a consequence of the evidence presented in this paper.