The classification and comparison of learning style preferences of learning disabled students and gifted students
Pederson, Jacqueline Kay
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The responsibilities of instructional leaders to address the needs of the individual and to improve student achievement in schools is compounded by special classes of students identified as learning disabled or gifted, since those students are generally separated from the rest of the students for a portion of the school day. While current research lends support to the conclusion that both achievement and affective outcomes of schooling can be enhanced by attention to learning styles, no consistent pattern emerges from the limited research on the characteristics of learning disabled and gifted students. The problem addressed by this study was the classification and comparison of learning style preferences of learning disabled students and gifted students in order to provide an additional dimension in the educational diagnostic and prescriptive practices for such students. The data were analyzed using descriptive and multivariate statistics to determine the relationship between learning style preferences and the three groups: students identified as learning disabled (Group LD), students identified as gifted (Group G), and students who had not been so identified (Group N). The variables included in the analysis were the 22 elements of learning style as identified by Dunn, Dunn, and Price, the groups themselves, and the background variables of age, sex, and grade level. Based on the findings of this study, the following conclusions were formed: 1. There are distinct learning style preferences common to the three groups of students: learning disabled students, gifted students, and students not identified as learning disabled or gifted. 2. Five of the 22 learning style elements discriminated among the three groups: requires intake, authority figures present, learning alone, responsible, and mobi1i ty. 3. There was no relationship between the independent variables of age, sex, and grade level, and the three groups. 4. Information obtained on learning style preferences of the three groups of students can become a sound basis for making administrative decisions.