The effects of matching and mismatching learning style and instructional strategies on online students' perception of learning outcomes

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Instructional Design, Development and Evaluation


Tiffany A. Koszalka


Learning style, Instructional strategies, Online, Field dependence

Subject Categories

Education | Instructional Media Design


The primary purpose of this study was to identify whether using instructional strategies that match and/or mismatch learning styles of online students affected their perceived learning outcomes. The secondary purpose of this research was to investigate whether there was any single instructional strategy that emerged with a superior perceived learning outcomes for field dependent and field independent students completing online course modules.

Adult students who enrolled in online graduate courses at Syracuse University were the participants of this study. An online module evaluation form was used to collect data from participating students. The Group Embedded Figures Test was used to identify learning style preferences of participants. T-tests and the repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) with between-subjects factors were used to test the experimental hypotheses. Statistical results showed that perceived learning outcome, the effort and involvement, and the level of interaction that adult students perceived in online courses did not change in instructional conditions where learning styles and instructional strategies matched and mismatched. Results also indicated that no superior instructional strategy emerged with higher perceived learning outcome for adult students in online courses.

Findings of this study suggested that providing instruction that responds to the learning styles of adult students did not improve student perceived learning outcomes, level of effort and involvement, and level of interaction in online courses for the group studied. Findings also suggested that instructional strategies used in this study fostered student learning in the same manner for all participating adult students regardless of their learning style.

The results of this study suggested that designing instruction that aligned with the preferences of field dependent and independent individuals in this sample was not fruitful to improving their perceived learning outcomes in online courses. Thus future research should concentrate on exploring other factors that can be used in designing online courses to improve student learning.


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