Impact of a Learning Style on Student Academic Performance


The domain of education is marked by debates about the declining quality of education, which most policymakers believe is subject to the inability of most institutions to actualise educational development aspirations. Therefore, educational institutions are striving to employ effective teaching processes and learning styles. The purpose of this research is to investigate the impact of learning styles on students’ academic performance at Financial Training & Management Services (FTMS) College in Malaysia. The study employed a pragmatic paradigm and a mixed methods research design. A combination of archival research and a case study strategy was adopted. The research employed a customized questionnaire, based on Barsch’s Learning Style Inventory (BLSI). The sample of 327 students was used in this research. The research results showed that there is a positive and strong correlation between learning styles and academic learning. It was also observed that sequential learning had a better effect on academic performance than visual, verbal and active learning. This research provides valuable knowledge to educators and academic institutions that are planning to adopt a combination of learning styles to teach their students effectively. Further research should focus on a larger sample size and the utilization of the interviews to improve the data credibility and acceptability of the future research findings. It could be conducted either in Malaysia or in other countries.



The world is largely enthralled by talks concerning the falling quality of education, which most policymakers believe is caused by the inability of most institutions to actualize educational development aspirations. The utilization of conventional lecture methods to deliver lessons by instructors is gradually overshadowing the other teaching methods such as discovery, discussion and project among others. The persistent use of lecture teaching methods has largely hindered effective teaching and learning processes because it prevents students from identifying their learning styles as well as applying them while learning. Students, who are taught with appropriate methods, tend to learn better and show high tendency of improving their academic performance.

Every year, the American government spends a huge sum of financial resources on improvement of quality of education. It is a considerably expensive to invest in the future of students hence the need to fight for better performance in eventuality. A lot of emphasis has put on values and curriculum of education to make learners achieve the needs of the corporate world. Learning and teaching is the foundation of all advancements in all levels of education namely; primary, secondary, college and university levels. Each level of education presents a new level of difficulty and challenge that students are expected to bear. The taxonomy of educational objectives categorizes learning into three groups; affective, cognitive and psychomotor. Competency-based learning is the major objective of education. Student potential is largely dependent on their learning preference. Presumably, learning style can be described as the preference of a learning method over the other to process new information including strategies, which are consistently used by teachers. Through the identification of a dominant learning style, students can potentiate their capabilities and strengths, as well as enhance effectiveness in their learning experience.

The cognitive domain stated in educational settings assist students to implement and understand the issues that they need to learn in their classroom objectives. The structure of educational taxonomy consists of knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, as well as evaluation. Some scholars revised the structure and came up with a four-knowledge dimensional taxonomy that includes; factual knowledge, procedural knowledge, conceptual knowledge and meta-cognitive knowledge. All educators need to give students several skills and instructors to facilitate their learning abilities through various teaching methods. However, instructors cannot just assume that students will comfortably understand the content when they only sit in classes and follow the provided instructions. It is vital to create an environment where there is high level of awareness between teachers, students and learning materials.

Students’ learning is mostly taken for granted by most people in the society. Learners are perceived to be academically capable of grasping content from the lessons and assignments that they are given. Quite a number of the students pass; however, those who fail turn the blame to the academic standards as well as teaching methods. Minimal consideration is provided to the ways through which the students learn as well as the learning styles that are employed in this process. Ideally, the teaching methodology of teachers should match the students learning ways and how they prefer to learn. Instructors should adapt their teaching strategies to suit the ways by means of which students learn and the styles of learning that they prefer to apply.

Elements of the learning styles have been under research since 1892. However, the term “learning styles” was first expressed by Thelen, who discovered group dynamics at work. The scholar described the term as a tendency to adopt a specific learning strategy. Going by this definition, teachers have the obligation to understand how their students learn. Both students and teachers could prefer one style of learning for several subjects, which they learn or teach. Therefore, the teachers should utilize different learning styles. Students would then realize the style that best suits them and use it to enhance their academic performance.

Schools, colleges and universities need to adopt a theory of learning which is founded on classroom approach. Different theories of learning exist and caution needs to be exercised whenever a selection is to be made. The learning theories include behaviourism, cognitivism and constructivism theories. Teaching quality is measured through the effectiveness of the learning style that a teacher selects to achieve the learning objectives in a particular subject. Since most teachers are often unaware of the approach that is likely to be most effective, the measurement of success of teachers is left to the learners. The relationship between approaches of teaching and what students learned is observable through a process in which the belief of teachers influence their teaching strategies, which in turn influence the students’ learning styles. Ideally, the learning styles used by students represent the type of learners that they turn to be in future. Various inventories, which identify the type of learners, students, turn out to be, have been published by scholars in the recent past. In classrooms where just a single learning approach is encouraged, students could possibly learn or work less effectively. Therefore, the teachers should be well aware of different learning styles.

The changes from traditional to progressive methods of education have led to increased interest in individual differences among learners. The current learning paradigm is student-centred, based on inclusivity, cooperative learning as well as diversity. Moreover, technology is perceived to be having potential of enhancing the capabilities of both learners and teachers. Methods used by teachers vary from one individual to another. Whereas some prefer to lecture, others discuss or demonstrate. Some also focus on principles and applications while others stress on understanding and memorization. The extent of the area of content that students learn in the classroom is not only partly determined by the learners’ native abilities and prior preparation, but also the compatibility of the learning styles with the teaching methods. The only way teachers can meet the multiple goals of learning is by adopting alternative teaching methods.

Students at college and university levels are often exposed to education systems, which are job oriented. As such, their learning styles tend to differ from students in other fields. At the college or university level, students pursue necessary skills and knowledge for performing specific jobs, occupations and professional activities in the labour market. Just like in other learning fields, identification and understanding of learner differences in adapting to the needs of an institute for the creation of better learning conditions is vital in universities. The need to employ teaching strategies in the student learning styles as well as preferences is a classroom reality that can be observed in classroom situations. It is however, important to note that research has never recommended for creation of individual methods for each student in the classrooms. The best interaction of students and teachers is created by developing group of learners who share common characteristics in terms of learning styles…

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Impact of a Learning Style on Student Academic Performance