The Relationship between Learning Style and Reflection in Student Blogs

Niall Watts


Authentic blogging allows students to develop their own thoughts and exchange ideas with their peers without activities or assessment set by an educator (Downes, 2006). Research on learning processes in higher education has found that blogging can encourage and facilitate reflection (Hall & Davison, 2007; Xie, Ke & Sharma, 2008). Reflection is associated with higher- order learning outcomes and a deep approach to learning and as such is considered desirable in higher education (Garrison & Vaughan, 2008; Moon, 1999; Ramsden, 2003). Some students find reflection difficult (Xie et al, 2008) while others may not reflect in the absence of set tasks and assessment (Mackey, 2007). A preference for e-learning tools, such as blogs, and an aptitude for reflection may relate to a student’s preferred learning style (Kolb, 1984; Kolb & Kolb, 2005; Saeed, Yang, & Sinnappan, 2009).

This exploratory study investigates the extent to which undergraduate students are engaging in authentic blogging where tasks are not assigned by a lecturer, the extent to which their writing shows evidence of reflection under these conditions and the influence, if any, of their learning style on their blogging practice. The study participants were eleven final year students on an undergraduate Multimedia and Communications course in a non-traditional university-level institution in Ireland. Six of these students kept blogs over an eighteen-month period.

An analysis of the ninety-two student blog posts and thirty-one comments in this study found that over one third were reflective, using discourse analysis based on Hatton and Smith (1995), while analysis of a questionnaire based on Kember and Leung (2000) found the student bloggers to be reflective learners. Most of the bloggers and all the most prolific bloggers showed a preference for Kolb’s converging learning style.

Albeit with a small sample, this study suggests that authentic blogs are effective tools for engaging undergraduates in reflection. It suggests that, despite misgivings about the lack of structure and scaffolding, lecturers can encourage their students to engage in authentic blogging as a means of developing reflection.

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Editor-in-Chief: Prof Norbert Pachler
UCL Institute of Education, University College London
ISSN 1746-9082

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