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Relationship between learning style and knowledge, attitude, and behavior change in nutrition education

Patricia A Beffa-Negrini, University of Massachusetts Amherst


We used Kolb's Model of Experiential Learning and learning style (LS) theory to design a group workshop (GW) and correspondence course (CC) to instruct adults on reducing cancer risk through diet. Kolb's model has four stages: having a concrete experience, reflecting on that experience, forming abstract concepts about the experience, and actively experimenting with what has been learned. Individuals prefer one stage of learning and are classified into four LSs: divergers, assimilators, convergers, and accommodators. The purpose of the study was to test the relationship of LS and instructional method to knowledge, attitude, and behavior change; knowledge and attitude maintenance ten weeks after instruction; and course attrition. Through mass media we recruited adults interested in diet and cancer prevention. Subjects completed Kolb's LS Inventory II (an instrument to determine LS), demographic questionnaire, and knowledge, attitude, and behavior pretests. Subjects were randomly assigned, by LS, to the GW, CC, or control group. Following the educational intervention, participants completed posttest measures of knowledge and attitude and delayed posttests of knowledge, attitude, and behavior. Both courses improved knowledge and attitude at posttest. However, knowledge gain was not maintained in either course, but attitude was maintained in the CC. Each course increased self-reported behavior scores, but only the GW values were significantly greater than controls. The CC improved "Yellow and Dark Green Vegetable" intake and lowered fat consumption in those subjects who had high fat intakes before the study began. No relationship was found between LS and knowledge and attitude change or maintenance, self-reported behavior, nutrient intake, nutrient density, or attrition. However, the converger LS had a significant decrease in consumption of citrus fruits at delayed posttest as compared to divergers and accommodators. In addition, convergers attending the GW had decreased fruit and vegetable consumption. The negative outcomes of convergers in the GW may be due to their preference for technical tasks rather than people. Thus, successful knowledge, attitude, and behavior change can result from nutrition education programs designed to reach all learning styles. Further research is needed to compare Kolb's model to other theories of behavior change and maintenance.

Subject Area

Nutrition|Adult education|Continuing education

Recommended Citation

Beffa-Negrini, Patricia A, "Relationship between learning style and knowledge, attitude, and behavior change in nutrition education" (1990). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9035379.