by Linda Beith, University Of Massachusetts At Boston

This webquest is a self-discovery of personal and generational learning styles that will inform design of online instruction


Designing effective online instruction should always start with an analysis of the audience. Who are the most likely participants for your course? How many people will participate in your course or workshop? What learning style characteristics should you keep in mind while designing your activities and content?

This lesson is a self-discovery of learning styles, both individual and generational, that will inform the design and instruction of your online course.


Susan needs to listen to music while she studies. Morgan needs to make note cards and quiz herself to understand concepts. Jim needs total quiet to concentrate, Bill can't concentrate if there is total quiet. Michaela likes to participate in a study group and discuss key concepts to help solidify her understanding, Patrick finds study groups confusing and needs to explore content on his own to construct his knowledge. Kate needs to jump in and try things herself while Michele prefers to watch someone demonstrate a topic first. Peter finds listening to podcasts the best way to understand new information while Maria prefers a video with lots of images.

Which one of these people is most like you?  Why can one person study with lights and sounds, but another person studies best with total quiet and the room lights dimmed?  One answer could be our various learning styles and even our generation.

If you research learning styles, you may come across the term neuro-lingustic programming (NLP for short).  NLP actually covers an entire range of topics, and learning styles is only a very small subset of NLP.  A complete review of NLP is beyond the scope of this Web Quest and is also a very controversial topic, but the sub-component of learning styles can easily be covered and that is the focus here.

Understanding your personal learning style can help you retain information and communicate better.  Understanding the broader range of learning styles will inform your work as an instructor and designer of online courses.

There is a lot of information on learning styles and depending on which book you read or what website you go to, you will find that learning styles can mean studying in a group or studying alone, or communicating openly or being more reserved, or an entire list of 10, 15, or even 20 learning modalities.  However for the purposes of this WebQuest we are going to focus on the  most common learning preferences.  The individual is referred to as a processor because that is how they best process information.  For example, an auditory learner is also called an auditory processor and a visual learning can be called a visual processor.