April 11-14, 2007
San Francisco, California

Sessions: Abstract

One Size Does Not Fit All: Learning Style, Play, and Online Interactives   go to paper

Steven Allison-Bunnell, eduweb, USA
Minda Borun, The Franklin Institute Science Museum, USA
David Schaller, eduweb, USA
Margaret Chambers, USA

In creating educational experiences, developers often target audience segments based on demographic groups. However, we all know that people vary in other ways; one size does not fit all. This paper presents results from a research study funded by the National Science Foundation that explores the effects of three possible influences (learning style, age, and gender) on user preferences for computer-based educational activities.

Using David Kolb's Experiential Learning Theory (Kolb, 1984) as a lens, we examined on-line learners' preferences for, and responses to, different types of activities ranging from deductive puzzles to open-ended design. Building on prior work presented at Museums & the Web (Schaller et al., 2002, 2005), we found that learning style does influence an individual's preferences for learning activities, particularly among adults. For example, adult social learners prefer role-play activities while intellectual learners prefer reference-style presentations.

The relationship between learning styles and these preferences is stronger in adults, with adults showing more learning style-based preferences. On the other hand, among children ages 10-13 (middle school), the perceived play value of an activity has the strongest influence. While adults agree with children's play ratings, play value is not a primary consideration for adults. Age is more influential than gender in affecting activity preferences. Children prefer structured activities like Role-Play and Design. Adults prefer Interactive Reference and Puzzle-Mystery.

Session: Evaluation II [Users]

Keywords: learning style, learning preferences, on-line learning, computer interactives, play value, Kolb