A Critical Analysis On Correlation Between Learning Style And Academic Performance Of Students

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A Critical Analysis On Correlation Between Learning Style And Academic Performance Of Students


This study was carried out to critically analyse the correlation between learning style and academic performance of students in selected secondary schools in Atiba local government area of Oyo state.. Specifically, the study identified the learning style preferences among the students, determined the academic performance levels of students, discovered the relationship between learning style and academic performance of the study. The study employed the survey descriptive research design. A total of 259 responses were validated from the survey. The study adopted the Kolb’s, Honey, Dunn and Dunn’s and Vermont theory. From the responses obtained and analysed, it showed that learning styles affected students academic performance. The study recommend school administration and teachers to use learning styles that will be effective for students and students with low academic performance should be encouraged.

Chapter One


1.1 Background to the Study

Educational research has been engaged for some time in investigating the methods by which people learn, an area of great interest to those involved in higher education. Emerging from this was the concept of learning styles, of which there are several forms. Cognitive style (e.g. Riding & Cheema, 1991; Allinson & Hayes, 1996 ; Rayner & Riding, 1997 refers to how students approach cognitive tasks and ‘make sense of their world’ (Price, 2004), while learning preferences (e.g. Reichman & Grasha, 1974) refer to how students prefer to be taught. Learning approaches (e.g. Entwistle & Ramsden, 1983) involve how students adopt certain strategies (surface, deep, strategic) when studying, while information processing (learning style) (e.g. Kolb, 1984; Honey & Mumford, 1986) may be defined as how students characteristically approach different learning tasks.

Some cross-culture research has revealed that certain ethnic groups have learmng styles that aredistinct fi-om those ofother ethnic groups (Dunn et al., 1990). Witkin and Berry (1975) found that the cultural background ofindividuals can influence learmng styles. While not all persons of a particular culture may leam in the same way, there are patterns in how members of different cultures leam more effectively (Flannery, 1991). Any variability in learning styles might be explained by other characteristics of the individual such as gender or academic major (Miller & Escolme, 1990).

Dorsey and Pierson (1984) found that age and prior experience affect learning style more than did gender or ethnic background. Claxton and Murrel (1987) reported that students’ perceived knowledge of learning styles increased their academic success in college courses. Nelson et al (1993) found that knowledge of learning styles preferences increases college students’ achievement and reduces their dropout rate. Corlett (1992) found that, when students are taught in a manner consistent with their learning styles, they experience increased academic achievement, improve their attitudes toward learning and have a reduction in discipline problems Kirk (1986) reported that learning styles correlate with grade point average and parental education. However, age, gender, and college major/minor do not correlate significantly. According to Blank and James (1993), the rationale for assessing student learning styles is to be able to provide a learning environment that maximizes learning for each student by teaching to his or her strengths and avoiding weakness

A little research has been conducted on the relationship of intelligence, critical thinking and learning styles. Some of these have been presented below: Schmeck and Ribich (1978) reported that students who scored high on critical thinking, scored high on deep processing but low on methodical study. This exposed those high reflective thinking skills for the deep processors but low skills for methodical students. Review of Related Research 30 Stewart (1979) inquired into the difference. Hackman (1988) designed a study to determine whether differences exist between gifted and non-gifted students in their learning style preferences.

Findings of the study revealed that significant learning style differences existed between gifted and non-gifted students. Gifted students, as opposed to their no gifted peers, expressed strong positive preferences for a cluster of self-directed instructional activities (independent study, discussion and teaching games) and strong negative preferences for several teacher-directed activities (lecture and programmed instruction) whereas on the other hand non-gifted students showed positive preferences for a cluster of teacher-directed activities (programmed instruction, lecture and teaching games) and milder preferences for instructional activities (projects and discussion). From this it may be inferred that intelligence has a relation with learning style. Verma and Tiku (1990) studied the

There is general acceptance that the manner in which individuals choose to or are inclined to approach a learning situation has an impact on performance and achievement of learning outcomes. Whilst- and perhaps because-learning style has been the focus of such a vast number of research and practitioner-based studies in the area, there exist a variety of definitions, theoretical propositions, models, interpretations and measures of the construct. As Keefe (1997) claims, the 3 biggest dilemma would be, ‗how can we improve the achievement of our students if we do not know how they learn? ‘How can we pretend any longer that we are serious about creating a learning society if we have no satisfactory responses to the questions: what model of learning do we operate with and how do we use to improve our practice and that of our students? There is a strong intuitive appeal in the idea that instructors, course designers and educational psychologists should pay closer attention to students ‘learning styles- by diagnosing them, by encouraging learners to reflect on them and by designing teaching and learning interventions around them. When this is done, learners will become more motivated to learn by knowing their strengths and weaknesses. In turn, instructors can respond to individuals ‘strengths and weaknesses, then retention and achievement rates in formal programs are likely to rise and ‗learning to learn ‘skills provide a foundation for lifelong learning. Sternberg (1997) proposed that styles are at least in part socialized suggesting that they can, to some extent, be modified.

Therefore, learners‘ knowledge of their learning style preference can help them optimally develop their meta-cognition and learning skills and abilities thus maximizing learning (Sternberg, 1997). In summary, Sternberg (1997) believed that greater awareness of learning preferences and styles helps teachers to be more flexible in their teaching and to utilize a wide range of classroom methodologies. The aim is not to match teaching style to learner preferences, but to help the learner build their skills and capacities to learn well in both preferred and less preferred modes of learning (meta-learning), thus developing effective and life-long learners who can monitor their learning strategies and evaluate their outcomes or achievement.

Although it has been found that students ‘learning styles do significantly influence their academic achievement, these findings are mostly based on research conducted in other countries 4 and vary depending on the country. According to Gokalp (2013), a country never stops to explore and develop its own methods of learning in order to respond to the demands particular to its environments (Yamazaki, 2005). For instance, Bennett (1993) summarizes that the learning styles of African Americans may be inconsistent with the teaching approaches applied in most schools.

Hence it is pertinent that the relationship between learning styles and academic achievement be examined based on a country-context perspective (Bennett, 1993), and so is the purpose of this study. The findings of this research adds to the existing body of discourse and consolidates the belief that learning styles as determined by self-assessment instruments improve academic achievement, since the learner is able to discover his/her preferred way of knowledge acquisition and the learning process they employ in a learning situation especially in secondary school.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Due to the current low achievement in almost all academic subjects, problem it is evident that learners have not yet learned how to learn or discovered their preferred learning styles for different learning material or content in this subject. Also, teachers have not understood the diversity of their learners in a typical classroom, and they keep on embracing the same traditional teaching styles in every context. In consequence, students become bored and inattentive in class, do poorly on tests, get discouraged about the subject, the curriculum, and themselves, and in some worse cases drop out of school.

Teachers confronted by poor grades, unresponsive or hostile learners, poor attendance and dropouts, know something is not working; they may become overly critical of their students (making things even worse) or begin to wonder if they are in the right profession. Learning style theories have been cited as an effective means of helping teachers recognize the incredibly diverse needs learners bring into the classroom, as well as helping the learners discover how they learn best for optimum academic achievement.

In addition, these theories provide a framework that enable teachers to reap the very best from their learners through developing a variety of instructional methodologies to benefit all learners, and more importantly helping the student learn how to learn and consequently achieve better academic results. It is therefore imperative to understand learning style preference among the learners and how they relate to academic achievement so as to develop effective and successful learners.

1.3 Objective of the Study

The main objective of this study is to discover the mutual relationship between learning style and the academic performance among secondary school students.

The specified objectives that will guide the research are:

  1. To identify the learning style preferences among the students
  2. To determine the academic performance levels of students
  3. To discover the relationship between learning style and academic performance of the study.
  4. To find out what measure can be taken to help the students with low academic performance.

1.4 Research Questions

The following questions will guide the researcher while conducting the research and also help to achieve the specified objectives:

  1. What are the different learning styles that exist
  2. What is the percentage level of the student’s academic performance
  3. Is there any relationship between learning style and academic achievement of the students
  4. What measure can be taken to help the students with low academic performance

1.5 Significance of the Study

This study is aimed at assisting teachers and educational psychologists/researchers understand the various learning styles favored by the learners. In addition, the researcher hopes to gather crucial and enough information to help instructors recognize the important relationship between learning styles preferences and academic achievement. If indeed significant relationship is exposed, further credibility will be afforded for the theory that learning styles play a crucial role in students ‘academic achievement and the learning style assessment instrument proposed for this study (the Barsch Learning Styles Inventory) would then become a means to assist teachers understand their learners ‘learning style preferences and adjust it to maximize learning and hence improve academic achievement. But more importantly, the teachers will help the learners discover their learning, that is meta-learning, and develop successful and life-long learners. Further, students will benefit from the knowledge about their own learning style and can take control or direct their own learning through modifying their habits and materials for optimum learning. According to Sternberg (1997), when learners learn in a way that suits them, improvements in the effectiveness of the learning process normally ensue.

1.6 Scope of the Study

This study covers the entire secondary school students of Alaafin high school and Alaafin grammar school, Agunpopo, in Atiba local government area of Oyo state.

1.7 Delimitation of the Study

The major problem faced during this research is time, the researcher has limited time to complete the research and also insufficient fund to finance the project also to visit more one school.

1.8 Definition of Terms


Detailed examination of the elements or structure of something


A mutual relationship or connection between two or more things.

Learning styles:

Individual’s unique approach to learning

Chapter Five

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

5.1 Summary

In this study, our focus was to critically analyse the corelation between learning style and academic performance of students, using the entire secondary school students of Alaafin high school and Alaafin grammar school, Agunpopo, in Atiba local government area of Oyo state, as a case study. The study specifically was aimed at identifying the learning style preferences among the students, determine the academic performance levels of students, discover the relationship between learning style and academic performance of the students, and find out what measure can be taken to help the students with low academic performance. This study was anchored on the Path-Goal Theory of Leadership and Trait theory.

The study adopted the survey research design and conveniently enrolled participants in the study. A total of 259 responses were received and validated from the enrolled participants where all respondent are drawn from the entire secondary school students of Alaafin high school and Alaafin grammar school, Agunpopo, in Atiba local government area of Oyo state.

5.2 Conclusion

Based on the finding of this study, the following conclusions were made:

  1. The different learning styles used in teaching of students include: visual learning style, auditory learning style, kinesthetic learning style and reading and writing learning style. While some other learning styles include: the social, solitary, verbal and logical learning style.
  2. During the course of the research, it was discovered that there was a relationship between learning styles and students academic performance. Students academic performance greatly improved when the learning styles that suited the students were used.
  3. For students with low academic performance, the following measures can be used to improve their academic performance.
    1. Encouraging them,
    2. Helping them set attainable goals,
    3. Offering extra lessons to them,
    4. Lightening their work loads where possible,
    5. Helping them draw a time table and
    6. Setting practice exams for them.

5.3 Recommendations

In the light of this findings, the following recommendations were made;

  1. That teachers should be trained on the different learning styles that exist
  2. Educators and teachers should know the learning styles that is most effective for their students
  3. Students should be encouraged to find out which learning style fits them more and improves their academic performance.

Other recommendations include;

Students with low academic performance need encouragement. They should be encouraged and rewards should be handed out when necessary. This goes a long way in boosting their ego and increasing positivism.

They should also be encouraged to set attainable goals which aid them in creating and maintaining their reading culture and without fail, practice exams should be given to check their academic progress and get them acclimatized with examination culture.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the relationship between learning style and performance?

The students with convergent learning style had a better academic performance than those with other learning styles and in the performance of those with the assimilating learning style the weakest. Table 2shows the relationship between the total score of critical thinking skills and each of the demographic variables and academic performance.

How does learning style affect critical thinking and inference skill?

Academic performance of the students had a direct significant relationship with critical thinking total score and inference skill; the more the score, the better the academic performance of students (p<0.05). Table 3shows the mean and standard deviation of learning styles score in the 4 groups of learning style.

Is there a correlation between learning styles and academic achievement?

In contrast, a study conducted by Yildirim, Acar, and Bull (2014) found no correlation between learners’ learning styles and their academic achievement.

What is the relationship between critical thinking and academic performance?

Also learning styles, critical thinking and academic performance have significant relationship with each other. Due to the important role of critical thinking in enhancing professional competence, it is recommend using teaching methods which are consistent with the learning styles. 


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