Match between learning styles and teaching methods: An exploratory study of the effects on nursing student's academic performance, perceived learning, and course evaluations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Higher Education


John A. Centra


Learning styles, Teaching, Nursing student, Academic performance, Perceived learning, Course evaluations

Subject Categories

Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Higher Education and Teaching | Nursing


The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of a match versus mismatch between learning styles and teaching methods on a student's academic performance, amount of perceived learning, and course evaluations. A review of past research supported the inclusion of the following student characteristics: age, previous academic performance, and amount of effort put into the course work. In addition, the teaching methodology used by the faculty member was included as an independent variable.

First year nursing students enrolled in courses that used three distinctly different instructional strategies were the participants in this study. The following data were collected: student learning profile as measured by the Grasha-Reichmann Student Learning Style Scale; previous academic performance as measured by the students' grade-point average prior to enrollment in nursing program; perceived degree of student effort, amount of perceived learning, and course evaluation as measured by the Student Instructional Report II; and students' final nursing course grade as measured by averaging all exams administered during the course. All data were collected during the fall 1998 semester. A total of 77 students completed both their respective nursing courses and Student Instructional Report II.

Stepwise multiple regression indicated the best predictors of the students' final nursing course grade were previous academic performance and the type of teaching methodology used by the faculty. The only predictor of the amount of perceived learning was the perceived degree of student effort put forth in their coursework. Lastly, the best predictors of the course evaluation were the degree of student effort, the type of teaching methodology, and a match versus mismatch of learning styles and teaching methods.

The findings suggest that faculty need to design and utilize instructional strategies that actively engage students in the teaching learning process. In addition, students must be made aware of the academic and the personal benefits from assuming a more proactive role in their learning. Finally, the study points to the need to further understand the myriad of variables that impact on student learning and students' perceptions of effective instruction.


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