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Learning styles and online education

Alina Zapalska (Department of Management, US Coast Guard Academy, New London, Connecticut, USA)
Dallas Brozik (Division of Finance and Economics, Marshall University, Huntington, West Virginia, USA)

Campus-Wide Information Systems

ISSN: 1065-0741

Article publication date: 1 October 2006




The purpose of this paper is to recognize that individual learning styles must be taken into account in the instructional design template used in online education. The paper argues that when students' learning styles are identified, it is possible to define an appropriate context of learning.


The paper identifies a set of instructional principles for online learning environments that are derived from multiple theories of learning with a consideration of different learning styles. The VARK questionnaire was used to determine learning styles of students who participated in two online courses. The VARK instrument identifies four distinct learning styles: visual (V); aural (A); reading/writing (R) and kinesthetic (K). These four dimensions are used to analyze the appropriateness of online learning structures.


The paper identifies teaching strategies in online courses while recognizing the four learning styles. The paper concludes that the achievement of online learning can be improved by providing instruction in a manner consistent with each student's learning style. However, it is important to keep in mind that, even if a specific student learns best in a certain way, he or she should be exposed to a variety of learning experiences to become a more versatile online learner.


The new result indicates that students with the auditory learning preference do not select online education as their first choice for learning. The combination of different techniques can make it possible for students with all types of learning styles to be successful in an online course.



Zapalska, A. and Brozik, D. (2006), "Learning styles and online education", Campus-Wide Information Systems, Vol. 23 No. 5, pp. 325-335.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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