Students’ questions and learning styles - a study with a public of Sciences in Higher Education

University of Aveiro, Portugal

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 Abstract

This work aimed at contributing for the development of pedagogical models that stimulate university first year chemistry students to be active participants in their education process and teachers to act as promoters of innovative teaching strategies. Such work is part of a research program designed to respond to the changing needs associated with the implementation of the Bologna Process in Portugal.

The present study was developed with Science and Engineering Chemistry undergraduates, at the University of Aveiro, in Portugal, during the academic years from 2001 to 2004, the main aim being to identify and characterize the students’ questions as well as their learning styles. The students’ questions were collected in different teaching contexts, analysed and related to their learning styles (Kolb, 1984), in order that the teaching and learning processes could be optimized.

A qualitative research methodology of the naturalist-ethnographic type was used. Several teaching strategies were designed and implemented, along three academic years (2001 to 2004). These strategies were modified when justified, after critical analysis at the end of each semester. Students’ oral and written questions, raised in different contexts, were collected, and students’ learning styles and approaches to learning were identified through an inventory (Kolb, 1999) and semi-structured interviews. Audio and video recordings were also used in diverse contexts of data collection. During the last semester (academic year 2003-2004) of the field work, new assessment processes compatible with the teaching strategies developed were tested.

The findings suggest a relation between learning styles defined by Kolb, approaches to learning and the cognitive level of students’ questions. Thus, students’ questions represent a tool that allows establishing a relation between approaches to learning and the theory of experiential learning, that represent two dimensions of learning styles with different theoretical backgrounds.

The results also confirm that it is possible to create an environment that favours students’ questioning, where the different characteristics of students’ learning styles of students can be considered to the design of different teaching strategies.

The literature revision made through the whole period of work allows us to say that this study represents a novel contribution for the establishment of interesting relationships between learning styles and students’ questions, based in empirical data.

Thesis (Full reference)

Almeida, P. (2007). Students’ questions and learning styles - a study with a public of Sciences in Higher Education. Unpublished PhD Thesis. University of Aveiro: Portugal.

Journal articles in English:
Almeida, P., Pedrosa de Jesus, H. & Watts, M. (2008). Developing a mini-project: students’ questions and learning styles. Psychology of Education Review, 32(1), 6-17.

Pedrosa de Jesus, H., Almeida, P. & Watts, M. (2008). Learners’ questions meet modes of teaching: a study of cases. Research Education, 78, 1-20.

Pedrosa de Jesus, H., Almeida, P., Teixeira-Dias, J. J., & Watts, M. (2006). Students’ questions: building a bridge between Kolb’s learning styles and approaches to learning. Education + Training, 48 (2/3), 97-111.

Pedrosa de Jesus, M. H., Almeida, P. & Watts, M. (2005). Orchestrating learning and teaching in inter-disciplinary chemistry.Canadian Journal of Science, Mathematics and Technology Education, 5(1), 71-84.

Pedrosa de Jesus, H., Almeida, P., & Watts, M. (2004). ‘Questioning Styles’ and Students’ Learning: Four case studies. Educational Psychology, 24 (4), 531-548.

Corespondence
Patrícia Albergaria Almeida
University of Aveiro
Department of Didactics
3810-193 Aveiro
Portugal

E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 
Phone: 00 351 234 370 352
Fax: 00 351 234 370 219

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