Relation Between Learning Styles and Student Performance in Architecture Design Studios

Document Type : Research Article



The nature of learners’ understanding is one of the most important factors that have a significant influence on the construction of architectural design studios.  Based on prominent theories of learning, it is necessary to take learners into account to have maximum results in any educational setting to which architectural design studios are no exception. Accordingly, the needs and personal characteristics of learners have particularly come into focus by educational theorists over the past decades.  One such personal characteristic is the learning style which exhibits the learning preferences of the individuals. Learning styles are generally categorized into three groups of cognitive, emotional and physiological. The present article tries to go into details about the cognitive learning style which was initiated by David Kolb and its implications for the students of architecture. The cognitive learning style has four subcategories which are converging, diverging, assimilating, and accommodating. 
In order to study the performance of students with regards to the learning styles, the present article first highlights the learning styles of students of architecture and then compares their performance in two different studio activities i.e. designing and sketching. With regards to the first activity type, the students were evaluated based on a long-term designing exercise which involved designing the library setting for the College of Arts and Architecture of Bou Ali Sina University of Hamedan. With regards to the second activity type, the students were evaluated based on their performance in six one-day sketching exercises that were held once a week throughout the semester.  Accordingly, the results of the evaluations in the two studio activity types and their connection to student learning styles were studied.   
The present research determines the differences between the performance of students in architectural designing – which is a long-term activity – and sketching – which is a short-term activity.  The results also helped the degree of weakness and success of students in each of the activities.  Therefore, the research identified which learning style can lead to maximum desirable results in which studio activity type and which style to the same effect is prone to prove a failure. It is expected that the results of the present research would help overcome the potential weaknesses in different learning styles of students through an efficient training program. 
The results of the research showed that students with the diverging learning style had the best performance and students with the converging learning style had the weakest performance with regards to designing and sketching activities.  Also, the research showed that students with assimilating and accommodating learning styles had different performances in the two studio activity types. Students with assimilating learning style had a better performance in sketching activities while accommodating students were better in designing classes.  
The differences between the performance of assimilating students in designing and sketching activities show that those students were better at sketching. This may be an indication that assimilating students can have a better performance in activities that are repeated.  As a result, they can improve their performance over a certain type of activity through repetition.  
This could not be the same for accommodating students because they prefer not to be engaged in a chain of activities which are about a single theme. Therefore, repetition will not work for them as it did for assimilating students and accordingly they will have a poor performance over activities such as sketching.