Commenced in January 2007
Frequency: Monthly
Edition: International
Paper Count: 31515
Undergraduates Learning Preferences: A Comparison of Science, Technology and Social Science Academic Disciplines in Relations to Teaching Designs and Strategies

Authors: Salina Budin, Shaira Ismail


Students learn effectively in a learning environment with a suitable teaching approach that matches their learning preferences. The main objective of the study is to examine the learning preferences amongst the students in the Science and Technology (S&T), and Social Science (SS) fields of study at the Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM), Pulau Pinang. The measurement instrument is based on the Dunn and Dunn Learning Styles which measure five elements of learning styles; environmental, sociological, emotional, physiological and psychological. Questionnaires are distributed amongst undergraduates in the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Faculty of Business Management. The respondents comprise of 131 diploma students of the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and 111 degree students of the Faculty of Business Management. The results indicate that, both S&T and SS students share a similar learning preferences on the environmental aspect, emotional preferences, motivational level, learning responsibility, persistent level in learning and learning structure. Most of the S&T students are concluded as analytical learners and the majority of SS students are global learners. Both S&T and SS students are concluded as visual learners, preferred to be in an active mobility in a relaxing and enjoying mode with some light of refreshments during the learning process and exhibited reflective characteristics in learning. Obviously, the S&T students are considered as left brain dominant, whereas the SS students are right brain dominant. The findings highlighted that both categories of students exhibited similar learning preferences except on psychological preferences.

Keywords: Learning preferences, Dunn and Dunn learning style, teaching approach, science and technology, social science.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI):

Procedia APA BibTeX Chicago EndNote Harvard JSON MLA RIS XML ISO 690 PDF Downloads 699


[1] R. Dunn. Learning style differences of nonconforming middle-school students. NASSP Buletin Vol 85, No 626, 2001, pp 67-74. Doi:10.1177/019263650108562607.
[2] Ismail, R.M. Raja Hussain and S. Jamaluddin. Assessment of students’ learning styles preferences in the faculty of science, Tishreen University, Syria. Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences 2, 2010, pp 4087–4091. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2010.03.645.
[3] A. Uzun, S.B. Goktalay, S. Öncü and A. Şentürk. Analyzing learning styles of students to improve educational practices for computer literacy course. Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences, 46, 2012, pp 4125 – 4129. doi: 10.1016/j.sbspro.2012.06.211.
[4] S. Penger, M. Tekavcic and V. Dimovski. Comparison, Validation and Implications of Learning Sytle Theories in Higher Education in Slovenia: An experiential and theoristical case. International Business & Economics Research Journal, Volume 7, Number 12, 2008, pp 25-43.
[5] G. French, T. Cosgriff and T. Brown. Learning style preferences of Australian occupational therapy students. Australian Occupational Therapy Journal 54, 2007, pp S58–S65. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1630.2007.00723.x.
[6] Wang, P.J., Lee, W.S., Hu, M.H., Wu, Y.T. (2013). Learning styles of undergraduate and graduate physical therapy students in Taiwan Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 93 pg 1254 – 1258. doi: 10.1016/j.sbspro.2013.10.024.
[7] C. Tulbure. Learning styles, teaching strategies and academic achievement in higher education: A cross-sectional investigation Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 33, 2012, pp 398-402. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2012.01.151.
[8] B. Prajapati, M. Dunne, H. Bartlett and R. Cubbidge. The influence of learning styles, enrolment status and gender on academic performance of optometry undergraduates. Ophthalmic Physiol Opt, 31, 2011, pp 69–78. doi: 10.1111/j.1475-1313.2010.00798.x.
[9] E.A. Wehrwein, H.L. Lujan and S.E. DiCarlo. Gender differences in learning style preferences among undergraduate physiology students. Adv Physiol Educ 31: 2006, pp 153–157. doi:10.1152/advan.00060.2006.
[10] G.N. Elizabeth and S. Chirayath. Influence of Emotional Intelligence on Learning Style – An Exploratory Study on Management Students. Journal of Business Management & Social Sciences Research, Vol 2, No 3, 2013, pp 14-23.
[11] I.Y. Kazu. The Effect of Learning Styles on Education and the Teaching Process, Journal of Social Sciences, 5(2), 2009, pp 85-94.
[12] L. Yang, S. Hanneke, and J. Carbonell. A Theory of Transfer Learning with Applications to Active Learning. Mach Learn, 90(2), 2012, pp. 161-189.
[13] P. Simons, P. Transfer of Learning: Paradoxes for Learners. International Journal of Educational Research, 1999, pp 577 – 589.
[14] T.F. Hawk and A.J. Shah. Using learning style instruments to enhance student learning. Decision Sciences Journal of Innovative Education, Volume 1, 2007, pp 1-19.
[15] E. Montemayor, M.C. Aplaten, G.C. Mendoza and G.M. Perey. Learning style of high and low academic achieving freshman teacher education students: An application of Dunn and Dunn’s learning style model. University of the Cordilleras Volume 01, No 4, 2009, pp 58-71.
[16] S.S. Russell. An Overview of Adult-Learning Processes. Urologic Nursing, Volume 26, Number 5, 2006, pp 349-352, 370.
[17] C.D. Hondzel. Diverse Perspectives on Adult Education and Lifelong Learning. Amazon, Create Space publisher, 2013.
[18] J.K. Kyong. Adult Learners’ Motivation in Self-Directed e-learning. PhD Thesis. Indiana University, 2005.
[19] M. Esposito. “Emotional Intelligence and Andragogy”: The Adult Learner. Conference Proceeding 19th International Conference “Learning Organization in a Learning World”, Thailand, King Mongkut’s University of Technology, 2005.
[20] L.A. Hopstock. Motivation and adult learning: A survey among hospital personnel attending a CPR course Resuscitation (2008) 76, pp 425-430.
[21] Mezei, G. (2008). Motivation and Self-Regulated Learning: A Case Study of a Pre-intermediate and an Upper-intermediate Adult Student. WoPaLP Vol. 2, 2008, pp 79-103.
[22] C. Daouk. Effects on Dunn and Dunn Learning Styles Model on Achievement and Motivation: A Case Study. MA(Education) Thesis. Lebanese American University, 2013.
[23] S. Joseph. Strategies for enhancing student learning experiences in higher education Caribbean Teaching Scholar, Vol. 3, No. 2, November 2013, 2013, pp 97–109.
[24] F. Naserieh and M.R. Anani Sarab. Perceptual learning style preferences among Iranian graduate students, System, 41, 2013, pp 122-133.
[25] O. Tabatabaei and S. Mashayekhi. The relationship between EFL l learning styles and their L2 achievement Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 70, 2013, pp 245 – 253. doi: 10.1016/j.sbspro.2013.01.061.
[26] Z. Baykan and M. Nacar. Learning styles of first-year medical students attending Erciyes University in Kayseri, Turkey. Adv Physiol Educ 31: 2007, pp 158–160. doi:10.1152/advan.00043.2006.
[27] A.G. Mehrdad and M.R. Ahghar. EFL Students’ Language Learning Preferences at Islamic Azad University- Hamedan Branch, Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 93, 2013, pp 102 – 106.
[28] M.S. Zywno and J.K. Waalen. The Effect of Individual Learning Styles on Student Outcomes in Technology-enabled Education. Global J. of Engng. Educ., Vol.6, No., 2002, pp 35 – 44.
[29] Slater, J.A., Lujan, H.L., DiCarlo, S.E. (2007). Does gender influence learning style preferences of first-year medical students? Advances in Physiology Education, Volume 31, pg 336–342. doi:10.1152/advan.00010.2007.
[30] H.L. Lujan and S.E. DiCarlo. First-year medical students prefer multiple learning styles. Adv Physiol Educ 30: 2006, pp13–16. doi:10.1152/advan.00045.2005.
[31] J. Breckler, D. Joun and H. Ngo. Learning styles of physiology students interested in the health professions Adv Physiol Educ 33: 2009, pp 30–36. doi:10.1152/advan.90118.2008.30 1043.
[32] C. Gunes. Learning Style Preferences of Preparatory School students. MSc Thesis. Gazi University, 2004.
[33] W. Mckeachie. Cognitive Skillsand Their Transfer. Discussion, International Journal of Educational Research, 1987, pp 707 – 712.
[34] S. Barnett and S. Ceci. When and where do we apply what we learn? A taxonomy for far transfer. Psychological Bulletin. 128(4), 2002, pp 612-637.
[35] M. Jayakumar. Expectations of Student Engaged in Tertiary Education on Engineering Courses from Their Teachers of Choice. International Education Studies. 3 (2): 2010, pp. 112-118.
[36] J. Lesmes-Anel, G. Robinson and S. Moody. Learning preferences and learning styles: a study of Wessex general practice registrars. British Journal of General Practice. 2001, pp 559 – 564.
[37] R. Bates and S. Khasawneh. Organizational learning culture, learning transfer climate and perceived innovation in Jordanian organizations. International Journal of Training and Development, 9(2), 2005, pp 96 – 109.