New Perspectives in Science Education

Edition 13

Accepted Abstracts

Do teachers’ learning styles influence their classroom teaching practice? A case of primary school science teachers from South Africa

Prof. Bongani Bantwini, North West University Human and Social Sciences For Education Potchefstroom South Africa (South Africa)


This paper examines the influence of teacher’s learning style on their classroom teaching and learning practice. The issue of how primary school science teachers’ learning style/s influence their classroom teaching and student learning has hardly received any research attention in South Africa. The reported mixed method study was conducted in various school districts in a large province in South Africa. The data was collected through the use of questionnaires administered to primary school natural science teachers, classroom observations during a science lesson teaching and semi-structured interviews. The study focused on the following questions: (1) what are the primary school natural science teachers’ preferred learning styles and how do they teach natural science in their classrooms? (2) How does their learning styles influence the teaching and learning in their classrooms? (3) What are the implications for teaching and learning of natural science in primary schools? Felder and Henrigues (1995) highlight that how much a given student learns in a class is governed in part by that student’s native ability and prior preparation but also by the compatibility of his or her characteristic approach to learning and the instructor’s characteristic approach to teaching. Dunn (1984) argues that learning style represents each person’s biologically and experientially induced characteristic that either fosters or inhibit achievement.   
The qualitative data coding and analysis followed the iterative approach as suggested by Miles and Huberman (1984) while the quantitative data was analyzed using SPSS for statistical analysis. Findings from the reported study reveals that teachers’ proclaimed learning styles were not emulated or translated into or visible in their classroom teaching practices. Rather, teachers seemed to be practicing what many claimed did not prefer or liked. There was contradiction, which leads to a conclusion that having a preferred learning style does not necessary mean that one will teach to accommodate or address their preferred learning style. In this study I conclude that the teacher’s learning styles or preferred ways of learning did not necessary shape or influence their teaching practice.This paper present and argues for several possibilities in this scenario including that (1) the teachers are teaching the way they were taught and it had now developed roots and seem as the ideal way to teach their classrooms; (2) their preferred learning style/s is not possible to emulate in their environment; (3) the other possibility, which is a fact about many schools, is that the teachers are teaching more than two subjects and therefore view the lecture method as the easiest way which will help them to be able to cover the syllabus within the specified timeframes; (4) there could be an issue of inadequate resources that hinder the use of the preferred learning styles. In conclusion, it is imperative that teachers are aware of their own teaching styles as this knowledge will help them to make better choices of instructional strategies that will effectively facilitate student learning and achievement.

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