The Relationship Between Learning Style Preference and Achievement in the Adult Student in a Multicultural College

Matilde E. Roig, Walden University

I dedicate this doctoral study to my father and mother, Carlos and Matilde, for their endless belief in me, and for instilling in me the value of education, ethics, and giving. I also dedicate this to Steve, for through his love, I have been able to achieve a dream in my education and in my personal life.

I want to acknowledge my life partner, for his constant love and countless hours of support while I typed. Also, this study would not be possible without the support of my dearest friends, Lyn and Peggy, who have seen me through many things in life and have been there to push me to new limits. Their encouragement has allowed me to believe that I could accomplish this study and endeavor. In addition, Jeanne, Irmgard and Greg were constantly in my heart and mind. I would be remiss if I did not mention the constant support and friendship that Dr. Stephanie Helms provided me, for without her mentoring and continued encouragement, I would not have been able to believe. She is a true professional and the kind of mentor that education needs so desperately. Her mentoring of me and of others truly does make social changes in education and in life. As my committee chair, she has exemplified what professionalism entails, as well as what it is to be a friend. In addition, I want to thank Dr. Raj Singh for his assistance and willingness to help me, always with a wonderful positive attitude that allowed encouragement and friendship. I also want to thank the faculty and students who participated in this study, as well as those who will participate in future studies to improve education and life amongst minorities and for all students. Last, but not least, I want to thank my children, Karl, Tristan, and Irina, for they have been a joy in my life and a reminder that I, as their mother, should continue to be a role model. I thank them for the chance to instill in them the joy of learning and the joys of loving.


Minority college students have varied learning styles and process information from distinct background and cultural perspectives, which influences their learning. Accordingly, the way faculty approach teaching affects student achievement. Few minorities are in scientific fields, with a shortage of scientists predicted. A problem exists in understanding the relationship between learning style preferences and achievement of minority college students. The purpose of the study was to investigate this relationship in adult minority students in a South Florida college’s biology courses. Research questions pertained to relationships between learning style preferences, race, ethnicity and grades. This quantitative study used the online Felder-Soloman Inventory of Learning Styles with a 73% response comprised of 162 White, Black-African American, Hispanic, and Asian students. Variables included grades, race, ethnicity, and learning styles. Relative frequency analysis revealed students preferred sensing, visual and sequential learning. ANOVA analysis showed no significant differences between learning style preference and achievement, nor between race-ethnicity and grades. Chi-square analysis revealed a significant relationship between Black-African Americans and Hispanics for sensing, visual and sequential learning, but not for visual. Black–African American students had the lowest passing rate in biology courses, with Asians having the highest. Increased educator and advisor knowledge of learning styles could result in social change and educational reform from this study, through the adoption of best methods for teaching minority groups enrolled in science courses. Knowing the potential shortage of minorities in the sciences, increased achievement in science courses might encourage these students to enter into scientific careers.