Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Human Resource Education and Workforce Development

Document Type



Research on teacher learning styles and teaching styles have explained that teachers inadvertently mirror their own styles as they teach (Sternberg, 1994; Zhang, 2002) and as such apply teaching strategies that fit personal preference. With this one-style-fits-all approach, students’ individual differences are often ignored and teaching methods are rarely varied to accommodate (McKeachie, 1995) the student. This relationship between one’s preferred style and his or her teaching style may also influence student learning (Zhang, 2001) based on findings which pointed out that students who had similar styles like those of their instructors were more comfortable with the techniques the instructor applied when teaching. Hoogasion (1971) and Lange (1972), as cited by Lutz (1983) inferred that students, who were style-similar to their professor, did better in those classes and the instructor was more positively perceived by the students who matched the instructor’s style. The students who did not share the instructor’s style, a study by Oxford and Lavine (1992) suggested, felt greater anxiety and responded negatively to the instruction. Should this issue be ignored, other adverse consequences including learning-associated emotional problems (Sitler, 2009) and physically health-related problems (Pritchard & Wilson, 2003) could be aggravated. Furthermore, if relationships existed between differences of cognitive style and coping behavior, would it not be also useful if this study were to discover findings of positive coping behaviors associated with the cognitive style gap between a student and his or her instructor? In order to promote diversity in learning, Prashnig (1998) and Rayner (2000) supported research on dissimilar learning styles in relation to learning strategies and coping behavior. Rayner (2007) advocated for aids which may help educators better meet individual learning needs in the classroom. The findings of this study may provide suggestions to the teaching practitioner regarding productive study strategies used by students, among other beneficial aids. This study may augment the sparse body of research which has demonstrated how cognitive style gap related to practical coping and learning strategies used by students. Further, it is intended to be another study extending Kirton’s theory and challenging its application to and sustainability in the classroom environment.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Friedel, Curtis