RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN STUDENTS’ LEARNING STYLES AND ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Background to the Study

Today’s amazing advancements in science and technology are the result of human learning. Human beings are continuously trying to learn and add to their knowledge in order to understand the constant changes in their environments. Learning is an act of acquiring new knowledge or modifying and reinforcing existing knowledge, behaviours, skills, values or preferences and may involve synthesizing different types of information. (Ghaffari, Ranjbarzadeh, Azar, Hassanzadeh, Safaei, Golanbar, Mazouchian & Abbasi, 2013). In educational institutions, success is measured by academic performance and how well students meet standards set by the institution. Academic performance is the outcome of education and the extent to which a student, teacher or institution has achieved their educational goals (Schacter, Gilbert & Wegner, 2009). Academic performance is commonly measured by examinations and continuous assessment but there is no general agreement on how it is best tested or which aspects are most important. In most Nigerian Universities, academic performance is measured by the final cumulative grade performance average. A student’s score or placement on the overall grade performance average is designed to be an indicator of such student’s performance level and this is calculated annually (Schacter et al, 2009). Many factors have been said to affect academic performance. These include socioeconomic, psychologic and environmental factors (Mbandeka, 2012). Learning process vary from person to person due to the presence of biological and psychological differences. All learners have individual attributes relating to their learning processes. (Abidin, Rezaee, Abdullah & Singh, 2011). According to Keefe & Farrel, (2004), learning problems are frequently not related to the difficulty of the subject matter but rather to the type and level of the cognitive processes required to learn the material. One area of higher education which has received great attention is the learning styles of students. Learning style has been defined by various scholars mostly as a signal for individual differences. These differences may manifest in the life styles and even in personality types (Zhang & Sternberg, 2005). Learning style is an individual’s natural or habitual pattern of acquiring and processing information in learning situations. (Gardner & James, 2005). The idea of individualized learning styles originated in 1970’s and has greatly influenced education (Pashler, Mc Daniel Rohrer & Bjork, 2008). A good way to discover a student’s learning style is by asking the student questions. Various instruments have been developed to assess learning styles. These instruments are referred to as learning styles inventory. Some of the learning styles inventory include Kolb’s learning style inventory, Dunn, Dunn and Price learning style inventory, Pharmacist’s inventory of learning styles, Honey and Mumford’s learning style inventory and Grasha – Reichmann student learning styles scales (Cassidy, 2004).

Statement of the Problem

One of the greatest aspirations of any country is to become a centre of excellence in education at the global level. Nigeria is no exception. Many attempts have been made in Nigeria to enhance students’ academic performance. Government and stakeholders are in continuous effort of building tertiary institutions while scholars and lecturers impact good knowledge but the outcome seems not to be positive (Mahmood, Rohaizad & Aripin, 2008). In Nigeria today, serious concerns have been expressed by parents, lecturers, employers of labour and the entire society about the quality of graduates from universities and tertiary institutions (Idaka, Joshua & Allan, 2006). According to Udeme, (2014), the quality of graduates produced by Nigerian tertiary institutions are now identified as the causal factor that affect the country’s economy negatively. He stated that 70% of Nigerian graduates are not fit for employment thus compounding the problems of youth unemployment. In University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus, records available to the researcher revealed that about 30% of students fail to graduate each year when they are supposed to do so (UNEC Registry records, 2001-2013). This has resulted to a lot of problems like emotional stress, financial constraints e.t.c, to the students, parents and the University. It is also surprising to note that out of 282 students who graduated from the Faculty of Health Sciences and Technology in 2013, none graduated with first class honors. Only 74 (26%) students graduated with second class honors (upper division). The rest came out with second class honors (lower division), third class and pass (UNEC Senate approval, 2013). Many reasons have been attributed to the poor state of academic performance in our society. These include parental ideology, poor educational background, insufficient instructional materials, inadequate and poor learning environment and lack of qualified teachers (Basavanthapa 2006). Vital as these reasons are, they have diverted attention from the learning styles of students in our institutions. Quite often, less focus is given to the impact that students’ learning styles have on their personality which will affect academic performance.

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Updated: 10th May 2018 — 4:45 pm

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