Date of Award

6-16-2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

First Advisor

Jeannine Fontaine, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Michael M. Williamson, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Dr. Gary Dean, Ph.D.

Abstract

The primary purpose of this study was to examine Saudi EFL college students‘ perceptual learning styles in order to determine whether their perception of their learning styles is a predictor of academic persistence, satisfaction and success in different learning environments. Participants‘ perceptions about their learning styles in both online-based and class-based environments, and their resulting satisfaction/dissatisfaction and persistence/non-persistence decisions, were explored. This study employed a concurrent mixed-method approach. Both quantitative and qualitative methods were used. Quantitatively, data was gathered from a sample of 100 college level Saudi EFL students. The students‘ learning styles were elicited using the Perceptual Learning Styles Preference Questionnaire (PLSPQ) developed by Joy Reid. Qualitatively, individual in-depth interviews were v conducted with two groups that were comprised of six students each representing the two modes of instruction students chose during this study. The interviews were used to answer the questions of the study which related the students‘ learning styles to their choices, experiences, and satisfaction. The study findings revealed some interesting results. First, the study presented the preferred learning styles among the Saudi EFL learners. The order of the preferred learning styles was as follows: Tactile, auditory, visual, group, kinesthetic and individual. Second, the study found no clear correlation between the students‘ preferred styles and their choice of instructional mode. However, students‘ satisfaction and success, as well as their positive and negative learning experiences, did correlate with their learning style preferences. Third, the study supported the idea that students‘ perceptions of their learning styles are affected by their personality types, cultural beliefs, and teacher‘s teaching style. Fourth, the study showed that Saudi EFL students preferred online classes for reasons other than those dictated by their learning styles. However, technology seems to have created both opportunity and threat within Saudi EFL classes. Fifth, the research reported on how the students‘ perceived learning styles affected their use of learning strategies as well as their motivation and confidence in different class formats. The study concludes with an affirmation on the importance of understanding students‘ learning styles and meeting students‘ expectations and needs in the classroom, regardless of class format.

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