Date of Award

8-2003

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Education

Major Professor

Dr. Russell L. French

Committee Members

Dr. Donald Dessart, Dr. Judith Boser, Dr. Edward Counts, Jr., Dr. Doris Redfield

Abstract

This research focused on instruction limited to text and graphics communication, offered through a combination of hypertext media and textbook, to community college students. This study served two purposes: assess the overall effectiveness of instruction that is limited to text and graphics communication; and determine the patterns, if any, between the strength of individual learning modality preferences and achievement. One hundred and twelve students enrolled in an introductory course in probability and statistics volunteered to participate. Instruction on the statistical concept of counting was conveyed by Web-pages and textbook. Communication between students and instructors was conducted by electronic mail. Subjects completed a pre-test and post-test to measure levels of achievement and mastery, the Perceptual Modality Preference Survey to ascertain perceptual modality preferences, and a survey to indicate the approximate amounts of time spent in various learning activities and whether other people or resources were used. Results indicated that overall levels of achievement and mastery were low. Only four subjects had posttest scores that indicated mastery of the content. Only nine subjects attained levels of achievement and mastery that were deemed substantial. No patterns were found in the data that indicated a relationship between perceptual modality preferences and achievement. It was assumed that students with strong preferences for either the print or visual modalities would be advantaged given that instruction was limited to text and graphics. However, subjects with strong preferences for either the print or visual modalities did not have higher levels of achievement than subjects with strong preferences for other perceptual modalities. In v fact, students with strong preferences for the visual modality had lower levels of achievement than subjects with preferences for other perceptual modalities. Implications of this study supported the “media richness” premise asserted by Daft, Lengel and Trevino. Media that enable immediate feedback, use of multiple cues, and use of natural language better allow the conveyance of information that will change understanding. Contrary to other research on learning styles, learning style preferences had little relationship to achievement.

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