Higher education instilled most of us with the belief that it is the instructor's responsibility to provide an optimum learning experience to ensure student success. This aspiration includes the written or unwritten directive for instructors to offer courses that provide a variety of opportunities for students with different learning styles to acquire knowledge. However, outside of academia, students may be confronted with educational offerings that do not conform to this belief system. Are we doing a disservice to our students with our idealistic, tailor made approach to education?
Kinshuk, Liu and Graf (2009) conducted a study of students' performance in courses misaligned with their learning styles. After assessing the students' learning styles using the Active/Reflective, Sensing/Intuitive, and Sequential/Global scales of the Felder-Silverman Learning Style Model (FSLSM) (they did not utilize the Visual/Verbal scale), the authors assigned students to courses not matched with their learning styles. In the FSLSM model, which has been modified since the original research in 1988, active learners prefer hands on activities; reflective learners prefer to think about the material. Sensing learners like facts; intuitive learners like relationships and possibilities. Sequential learners prefer learning one thing at a time; global learners have leaps of insight. Visual learners prefer picture, graphs and charts; verbal learners prefer words. Kinshuk and colleagues evaluated student performance with a final exam to examine gained knowledge. They found students who had a "strong preference for at least one of the three learning style dimensions had significantly lower scores on the final exam than learners with no strong preference for any learning style dimension" (Kinshuk, Liu and Graf, 2009, p. 744).