Towards an integrative view on learning style versatility in a business school context

  • Wolfgang Amann

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Educational Psychology

Abstract

Business schools operate in a highly dynamic environment and regularly need to reassess the value they add to a given context. The following research presents a critical analysis of the concept of ‘learning style versatility’ (LSV) and further substantiates it, relying on three related studies. The concept captures the degree to which a learner can effectively apply different learning styles in the process of learning. In this study, it is presented as an emerging construct. By boosting learning skills business schools increase the value they offer and the quality of the courses participants receive. Recognizing and appropriately responding to LSV can potentially add tremendous value to business schools as well as to individual learners’ skills and knowledge.

The first of three studies represents a ‘proof of concept’, thus the thesis starts by substantiating the hypothesis that LSV is an important construct. Offering a first and aligned conceptualisation and operationalisation of the construct, the initial study answers the research question on how LSV impacts learning outcomes, and it confirms a positive, statistically significant impact. Seemingly, the higher the LSV, the better the students’ grades. This first study also provides an initial working definition of LSV which will recur in the subsequent two empirical and qualitative studies.

Next, two qualitative studies follow, which develop grounded theories on how the faculty and students experience the phenomenon. As for the faculty, a four-level framework explains hygiene factors – in allusion to early motivation theory – to be managed if LSV should deploy more of its potential. Study three complements the analysis by interviewing students on matters that disclose how they perceive LSV-related dynamics. There is an interesting student-driven emergent approach to altering the learning experience and exceeding what the limited classroom setting offers. In order to arrive at a context-rich understanding of the phenomenon, I conducted all three studies at the same private business school in one of India’s main cities. The research closes with a future research agenda mapped for this still nascent construct that hitherto has been dealt with in a rather fragmented way.
Date of Award2020
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorLiz Lakin (Supervisor) & Richard Ingram (Supervisor)

Keywords

  • Learning
  • Learning style versatility
  • Business schools

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