The use of the learning styles questionnaire (LSQ) in the United Arab Emirates

Published date05 September 2016
Date05 September 2016
AuthorDarwish Abdulrahman Yousef
Subject MatterEducation,Curriculum, instruction & assessment,Educational evaluation/assessment
The use of the learning styles
questionnaire (LSQ) in the
United Arab Emirates
Darwish Abdulrahman Yousef
Department of Business Administration,
Faculty of Business and Economics, United Arab Emirates University,
Al Ain, UAE
Purpose – The purpose of this study is to examine the use of Honey and Mumford’s (1986) learning
styles questionnaire (LSQ) in the context of United Arab Emirates (UAE) higher education. In
particular, it aims at exploring the learning style preferences of United Arab Emirates University
(UAEU) students using LSQ. It also investigates whether there are statistically signicant differences in
students’ learning style preferences because of their demographic and academic characteristics.
Design/methodology/approach Data were collected from a sample of 1,463 undergraduate
students at the UAEU. Descriptive and inferential statistics were used to present the main
characteristics of respondents, to explore the learning style preferences of UAEU students and to nd
out whether there are signicant differences in students’ learning style preferences because of their
demographic and academic characteristics.
Findings – Results indicated that UAEU students have strong preferences for the four learning styles.
Results showed that about 68 per cent of UAEU students have strong or very strong preferences for the
activist leaning style, whereas about 84 per cent have strong or very strong preferences for the reector
learning style, 78 per cent have strong or very strong preferences for the theorist learning style; about
60 per cent have strong or very strong preferences for the pragmatist learning style. Furthermore, there
were statistically signicant differences in certain learning styles because of students’ demographic
and academic characteristics.
Research limitations/implications – There are a number of limitations associated with this study.
First, data were collected from a single university in the UAE. Second, the results are based on a
self-report survey and this in turn might affect the reliability of the results. Another limitation is that
this study is of snapshot type. Hence, it might not capture the dynamic nature of learning style. On the
other hand, it has a number of implications for students, educators and administrators.
Originality/value – The present study is the rst attempt to explore learning styles preference of
undergraduate students using LSQ, not only in the content of UAE higher education but also in the Arab
Keywords United Arab Emirates, Higher education, Learning, Undergraduates, Learning style,
Learning style questionnaire, UAE university
Paper type Research paper
Learning styles have been the subject of numerous papers over the past few decades.
This is mainly because of the importance of knowing the learning styles of students, not
only for students themselves but also for educators and administrators. Students can
benet from knowing their own learning styles. For instance, Cano (1999) argues that
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
Received 6 March 2016
Revised 28 June 2016
Accepted 8 July 2016
QualityAssurance in Education
Vol.24 No. 4, 2016
©Emerald Group Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/QAE-03-2016-0010
identifying students’ learning styles early in their academic career would alert the
student to his/her potential academic weaknesses and teach them mechanisms by which
to cope and/or adapt their learning. Furthermore, Dembo and Howard (2007) assert that
students can improve their learning effectiveness in and outside of the classroom if they
understand their learning styles. Knowledge of students’ learning styles will also be of
benet to educators. As Naik (2003) stated:
A knowledge of the distribution of the learning styles of students in the class can help the
instructor customize his/her teaching methods to match the modal learning styles in the class
(p. 5).
Similarly, Lashley and Barron (2006) suggest that educators need to plan teaching and
learning activities in a way that recognizes student learning preferences and the
educational practice that best aids student learning. In the same direction, Massey et al.
(2011) argue that knowledge of learning styles can enhance the ability of faculty to build
on student experiences and construct new learning opportunities. Additionally, Honey
and Mumford (1982) claim that the closer the match between an individual’s preferred
learning style and the learning activities to which he/she is exposed, the more likely the
individual to learn. However, Sharma (2009) asserts:
Too much adaptation to the learning style of students on the part of teacher can hinder the
student’s ability to comprehend, think independently and adapt to the situations. Certain
mismatch or disparity in teaching-learning preferences helps students be more adaptable and
appreciate the strengths of different learning styles (p. 60).
As for administrators, they can use students’ learning style preferences in designing
courses and educational programs. Moreover, knowing the predominant learning style
can help administrators to develop curricula which provide an optimal learning
experience for students.
Despite the importance of learning style preferences, as stated earlier, and the sizable
number of publications concerning learning style preferences, some scholars still
disbelief in learning styles theories. For instance, Willingham et al. (2015) argue that
scientic support for learning style theories is lacking and they suggest that educators
should spend their time and energy on other theories that might aid instruction.
Learning style has been dened as “being characteristics of the cognitive, affective,
and physiological behaviors that serve as relatively stable indicators of how learners
perceive, interact with, and respond to learning environment” (Keefe, 1979,p.4).Dunn
(1990) sees learning style as “the way each learner begins to concentrate, process, and
retain new and difcult information” (p. 353). Loo (2002) denes learning style as “the
consistent way in which a learner responds to or interacts with stimuli in the learning
context” (p. 349). Felder (1996) denes learning style as “characteristics, strengths and
preferences in the way they take in and process information” (p. 18). Learning style has
also been dened as “the way in which a learner prefers to take in and process
information” (Rosati, 1999, p. 17). It is also dened as “a description of the attitudes and
behaviors which determines an individual’s preferred way of learning” (Honey and
Mumford, 1992,p.1).Claxton and Ralston (1978) see learning style as a consistent way
of responding to, and using, stimuli in the context of learning. De Bello (1990) refers to
learning style as the way that people absorb or retain information. For the purpose of
this study, the author adopts Honey and Mumford (1992) denition of learning style.

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