Are There Cultural Differences in Learning Style?

This study examines the role that culture plays in the way individuals learn. Experiential learning theory is used to describe the learning process and the Kolb Learning Style Inventory is used to assess differences in how individuals learn. Using the framework for categorizing cultural differences from the Global Leadership and Organizational Effectiveness (GLOBE) study, national cultures are examined by cultural clusters and individual cultural dimensions. The first part of the study assesses the relative influence of culture in comparison to gender, age, level of education and area of specialization of 533 respondents born in and currently residing in 7 nations. We found that a significant portion of the variance in the preference for abstract conceptualization was explained by culture, gender, level of education and area of specialization. The variability in preference for active experimentation over reflective observation was accounted for by age and area of specialization. The impact of culture was only marginally significant. In the second part of the study where we examined the influence of individual culture dimensions in shaping the learning style preferences, we discovered that individuals tend to have a more abstract learning style in countries that are high in in-group collectivism, institutional collectivism, uncertainty avoidance, future orientation and gender egalitarianism. Individuals may have a more reflective learning style in countries that are high in in-group collectivism, uncertainty avoidance and assertiveness.

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Joy, S., Kolb, D. A.
International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 33(1): 69-85.
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