Grouping students based on learning styles and its impact on students’ academic performance in group assessments

Rajesh Johnsam, Ashleigh Powell, Mahmoud Moussa, Roger Howley

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review

Abstract

There are several factors that impede the smooth functioning of student groups while working on group assessments. These include interpersonal disagreements, group composition issues, unequal workload distribution, and social loafing (Hirshfield & Koretsky 2018; Trroussas et al 2023). To address challenges related to group composition, Pardes and Rodriguez (2006) suggest grouping students according to their learning styles (homogenous groups) may provide synergy and provide opportunities to improve learning outcomes. Conversely, Grigoriadou et al. (2006) argue that heterogenous groups with dissimilar or mixed learning styles have the advantage of generating dynamic group interactivity and ideas from different perspectives. Hence, our study aimed to investigate whether grouping students based on similar (homogenous) and dissimilar (heterogenous) learning styles had a positive impact on students’ academic performance.

The study involved students completing a Felder-Soloman Index of Learning Style Survey (ILS) in the first week of the first-year unit - Organisational Behaviour. We assigned students who had one single dominant learning style into similar (single) learning style groups (8 groups). Students who had similar scores on two different learning styles were grouped under two styles category (3 groups). We combined the students of different learning styles to create mixed learning styles’ groups (11 groups). Finally, the students who did not complete the survey were placed under ‘Random Groups’ (6 groups).

Students participating in the study completed two types of assessments in their groups. As a formative assessment, there were 8 weekly group concept games (non-graded) spread across the duration of the topic. A group case report constituted the summative part of the assessment that required students to work in groups. The analysis results showed that the mixed learning styles groups performed better in the group assessments than those in the single or two-style groups. Eight out of 11 mixed learning style groups were on the top 15 in the leaderboard table for the formative assessment (weekly group concept games), and six out of 10 groups that obtained distinction in the group case report formative assessment belonged to the mixed learning style groups category.

Although learning styles are considered a stubborn myth, our results suggest that forming groups based on mixed learning styles may provide opportunities to enhance learning outcomes for students in group assessments in university courses.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 26 Sept 2023
EventHERGA Conference 2023: The Future is Now - Flinders University, Bedford Park, Australia
Duration: 26 Sept 202326 Sept 2023
https://herga.com.au/conferences/conference-2023/

Conference

ConferenceHERGA Conference 2023
Country/TerritoryAustralia
CityBedford Park
Period26/09/2326/09/23
Internet address

Keywords

  • Higher education
  • Students
  • Groups
  • Group assessment
  • Learning outcomes
  • Learning styles

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