Hypertext and learning styles

David Ellis (Department of Information Studies, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S102TN, UK)
Nigel Ford (Department of Information Studies, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S102TN, UK)
Frances Wood (Department of Information Studies, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S102TN, UK)

The Electronic Library

ISSN: 0264-0473

Publication date: 1 January 1993


The project was designed to provide a framework for a comprehensive user evaluation of both software packages and hypertext environments. User evaluation constituted an integral part of the design and development process. The learning packages and hypertext systems were evaluated in terms of the extent to which they provide flexibility for learners to follow their preferred learning styles. Evaluation was carried out in relation to: (1) hypertext packages; (2) learning styles and learning outcomes; and (3) system design. Two sets of learning experiments were conducted. In the first, the package related to ‘1992’ — the Single European Market—was tested with postgraduate MBA and Information Studies students, whose individual learning approaches were assessed. In the second, the package was in the field of food and wine and was tested with further education students on a catering course. Those with a holist predisposition strongly favoured the use of global features such as the map. On the other hand, serialists preferred the rapid access allowed by the index. The ‘Wine and Food’ experiment, with a smaller sample, produced no significant findings to reinforce the ‘1992’ results. However, there was an interesting positive correlation (though not statistically different) between field dependence and performance on the learning test. Cognitive styles were demonstrated to be a significant component of individual behaviour within the hypertext environment. Providing a variety of tools optimised for preferred modes of usage creates a rough equality of overall task‐related performance between those with differing cognitive styles, and allows the user to evolve an appropriate strategy for effective performance. The ‘lost in hyperspace’ phenomenon was rarely evident and may be eliminated by improved semantic content in navigational aids. Hypertext has been confirmed as a useful medium for searching, learning and recall, but must include as many alternative modes of usage as possible within the design of a particular system.


Ellis, D., Ford, N. and Wood, F. (1993), "Hypertext and learning styles", The Electronic Library, Vol. 11 No. 1, pp. 13-18. https://doi.org/10.1108/eb045203

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Copyright © 1993, MCB UP Limited

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