Conflict within the educational system: The learning styles of potential high school dropouts

Robert Lee Gilpatrick, Marquette University


Students dropping out of high school create a loss of resource for future problem solving. Evidence indicates that a significant number are dropping out of school due to conflict with the educational system. This study investigated the characteristics of learning styles of potential dropouts as well as their ability and that of their teachers to predict student styles. Evidence of common characteristics could encourage intervening steps to make the educational system compatible with the learning styles of potential dropouts. This study drew information from students and teachers in mid-size public high schools in suburban areas of southeast Wisconsin. Students were identified by schools as "at risk" of dropping out and met the criteria for Wisconsin's "At Risk" Initiative. Data was collected through the Gregorc Style Delineator plus Teacher and Student Surveys based on Butler's Student Guide to Style. The research addressed patterns of learning styles in teacher and student populations and the abilities of teachers and students to predict student styles. Data revealed randomness among students tended to appear more frequently than in a normal population. The high level of intensity and significance of random-related constructs and qualities in potential dropouts in this study is of greatest import, however. Teachers demonstrated significantly increased levels of intensity in random qualities and the concrete random construct. Neither teachers nor students were statistically accurate in attempts to identify student learning styles using the Student Guide to Style. Students, however, correctly predicted student primary style three times as often as teachers. Conclusions. (1) Students demonstrated a pattern of learning styles which varied from a normal adult population. The deviation was increased intensity in randomness. (2) Teachers demonstrated a pattern of learning styles varying from a normal adult population. There was heavy dominance of randomness among teachers with strong intensity in Concrete Random style. (3) Student ability to identify own style exceeded their teachers' ability to identify student styles.

Recommended Citation

Gilpatrick, Robert Lee, "Conflict within the educational system: The learning styles of potential high school dropouts" (1990). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. AAI9101414.