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Learning strategy preferences, decision-making styles, ways of knowing, and cultural awareness of members of the National Academic Advising Association

ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 2009
Dissertation
Author: Donna K Trout
Abstract:
Academic advisors help students with the process of decision making, of making sense of their world, of understanding how they go about learning, and of understanding how to appreciate diversity in their world. If advisors are to help students in these areas, academic advisors should be aware of the cognitive processes of how they make sense of the world and of how they approach learning situations. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to describe the cognitive style dimensions of decision-making styles, ways of knowing, learning strategy preferences, and cultural awareness levels of the members of the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA). To do this, data were collected over the Internet from 360 members of NACADA using the General Decision-Making Survey (GDMS), the Attitude Toward Thinking and Learning Survey (ATTLS), Assessing The Learning Strategies of AdultS (ATLAS), and the Cultural Appreciation in Lifelong Learning (CALL). In addition, data were gathered on the following demographic variables: gender, age, race, education level, advising experience, role in institution, type of institution, degrees offered at the institution, region, and size of institution. Prior to constructing profiles of the participants on each of the instruments, the reliability for the GDMS and the ATTLS and the factor structures for this sample were confirmed. For decision-making style, the NACADA members overwhelmingly use the logical, rational style as their primary decision-making style. The overall scores for both scales of ways of knowing were very similar with no difference on either due to gender as hypothesized by the authors of the instrument. For learning strategy preference, the NACADA members had more people who initiate learning activities by generating alternatives than found in the general population, and as a group they prefer initiating learning from the cognitive domain rather than the affective domain. In terms of cultural appreciation, NACADA members are open to cultural diversity. No practical relationships were found between any of the instruments and the demographic variables. Likewise, discriminant analysis revealed no meaningful interaction among the four cognitive style dimensions. Conclusions were drawn related to decision-making styles, ways of knowing, learning strategy preferences, cultural appreciation levels, and cognitive processes. These include conclusions about the structure of the instruments, the relationships to demographic variables, the independence of the four cognitive style dimensions in the study, and the cognitive style approaches of members of NACADA. Recommendations were made for how these could be used to influence academic advising. .

TABLE OF CONTENTS Chapter Page 1. INTRODUCTION......................1 Higher Education...................3 National Academic Advising Association........6 Continuing Professional Education..........7 Andragogy.....................8 Self-Directed Learning..............10 Individual Differences..............10 Decision-Making Styles................12 Ways of Knowing...................14 Multicultural Awareness...............15 Problem.......................16 Purpose Statement..................18 Research Questions..................19 Conceptual Framework.................22 Limitations.....................28 2. LITERATURE REVIEW...................30 History of Academic Advising.............30 National Academic Advising Association........33 Continuing Professional Education..........37 Adult Learning....................46 Andragogy.....................46 Self-Directed Learning..............50 Diversity......................53 Cultural Competence................55 Multicultural Awareness..............57 Cultural Appreciation...............62 Game of Magic Study................74 Workforce Oklahoma Study.............75 3. METHODOLOGY......................80 Design........................80 Population and Sample................80 Decision-Making Style................83 Ways of Knowing...................87 Learning Strategy Preferences............90 Cultural Appreciation................97 Procedures.....................102 4. FINDINGS.......................105 Participants....................105 Decision-Making Styles...............114 v

Factor Analysis.................115 Reliability...................117 Profile of Participants.............119 Ways of Knowing..................131 Factor Analysis.................131 Reliability...................135 Profile of Participants.............136 Learning Strategy Profile.............140 Cultural Appreciation in Lifelong Learning.....145 Relationship with Demographic Variables......148 Analysis of Variance..............149 Decision-Making Styles.............150 Ways of Knowing.................161 Learning Strategy Preferences..........164 Multicultural Awareness.............170 Interaction of Cognitive Processes.........176 5. SUMMARY, CONCLUSIONS, AND RECOMMENDATIONS......188 Summary of Study..................188 Summary of Findings................191 Profiles....................191 Relationships..................193 Interactions..................195 Conclusions....................196 Decision Making..................197 The GDMS....................197 Academic Advising and Decison-Making......198 Career Services and Guidance..........201 Ways of Knowing..................204 Learning Strategies Preferences..........207 Adult Learners.................209 Continuing Professional Education........212 Cultural Awareness.................216 CALL......................216 Advising and Cultural Awareness.........218 Cognitive Processes................228 Metacognition..................229 Developmental Advising.............229 Additional Research................230 vi

LIST OF TABLES Table Page 1: Distribution of Personal Demographic Variables...................108 2: Distribution of Professional Demographic Variables...................110 3: Distribution of Institutional Variables......112 4: Factor Analysis of GDMS..............117 5: 2-Factor Solution for 20 Items of ATTLS......133 6: Single-Factor Solution for Each Scale of ATTLS....................135 7: Observed and Expected Distributions for ATLAS...................144 8: Observed and Expected Distributions for CALL....................148 9:ANOVA of GDMS Scales and Personal Demographic Variables...................154 10:ANOVA of GDMS Scales and Professional Demographic Variables.............156 11:ANOVA of GDMS Scales and Institutional Variables...................159 12:ANOVA of ATTLS Scales and Personal Demographic Variables.............162 13:ANOVA of ATTLS Scales and Professional Demographic Variables.............163 14:ANOVA of ATTLS Scales and Institutional Variables...................164 15:Chi Square of ATLAS and Personal Demographic Variables...................166 16:Chi Square of ATLAS and Professional Demographic Variables.............168 17:Chi-Square of ATLAS and Institutional Variables...................169 18:Chi-Square Values for ATLAS and Personal, Professional, and Institutional Variables...170 19:Chi-Square of CALL and Personal Demographic Variables...................171 20:Chi-Square of CALL and Professional Demographic Variables.............172 21:Chi-Square of CALL and Institutional Variables...................174 22:Chi-Square Values for CALL and Personal, Professional, and Institutional Variables...176 vii

23:Classification Results for ATLAS Groups from Discriminant Analysis with GDMS, ATTLS, and CALL Discriminating Variables.......187 viii

LIST OF FIGURES Figure Page 1: Conceptual Framework for Study............27 2: Distribution of Rational Decision- Making Scores.................120 3: Distribution of Intuitive Decision- Making Scores.................122 4: Distribution of Dependent Decision- Making Scores.................124 5: Distribution of Avoidant Decision- Making Scores.................126 6: Distribution of Spontaneous Decision- Making Scores.................128 7: Distribution of Primary Decision- Making Styles.................130 8:Distribution of NACADA Members on Connected Knowing Scale............137 9:Distribution of NACADA Members on Separate Knowing Scale.............139 10: Distribution of NACADA Members in ATLAS Groups..................142 11: Distribution of NACADA Members in CALL Groups..................146 ix

CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION “Academic advising encompasses an increasing level of presence and involvement in the development of college students and the educational paths they may choose” (Gillispie, 2003 p. 1). Although academic advising has been a defined area within education for only a few decades, it has been a prevalent concern since the birth of America. Since the inception of higher education in America, the concept of advising students has been present in some form. The movement of advising throughout history offered practitioners valuable insight into theories and issues that continue to be a relevant concern to the academic world (Gillispie, 2003; Gordon, 1992). A theory that tends to surface time and time again is the role of an academic advisor. Are academic advisors counselors, career counselors, or teacher? “No one theory is likely to explain the whole of academic advising; just as not one theory could explain the whole of teaching, medicine, or law” (Hagen & Jordan, 2008, p. 18). Winston (2003) described counseling and academic advising together as: Interventions for helping students identify appropriate academic, life, and career goals, build or repair self-insight and self-esteem, 1

broaden intellectual interest and curiosity, encourage the use of institutional resources and associated learning opportunities, establish meaningful interpersonal relationships with others, clarify personal values, examine ethical implications or their behavior and beliefs, and enhance critical thinking and reasoning. (p. 15) Though Winston describes the two together, presently, academic advising and counseling are separate and different, and this study deals with the cognitive styles of the professional academic advisor. Professional advisors, faculty advisors, and student advisors must “grasp their theoretical data in order to develop and continue the research necessary to generate newly and more effective ways of understanding and assisting future generations of learners” (Gillispie, 2003, p. 2). In this process, academic advisors are working with adult learners. Because, advisors help the learner address things related to cognitive processing, cognitive development theories are relevant to the field of academic advising. Based on the work of Piaget (1952), these theories “examine how people think, reason, and make meaning out of their experiences” (Evans, 2003, p. 186). Cognitive development is also viewed as “sequential and development occurs when cognitive structure is changed, thus enabling new ways of incorporating experience” (Creamer, 2000, p. 23). Although 2

cognitive structures vary from one individual to another, individuals may have different views of a single event (Creamer & Creamer, 1994). By addressing these cognitive processes, an advisor can help learners to make sound academic decisions to be successful in higher education academe. Academic advisors work in the area of higher education, and higher education is a diverse area. It refers to post- secondary education that involves a variety of types of organizations such as community colleges, four-year universities, and proprietary schools. Higher Education As history shows, the American educational system is diverse and one of the most developed in the world. Different educational institutions are available within this system for a wide variety of learners. Among the post- secondary education options are the 4-year colleges and universities, 2-year community colleges, technical and trade schools, and proprietary colleges. Of these, the community college has been an original American contribution to higher education (Cohen & Brawer, 2003). While many institutions typically provide students with specialized skills and technical knowledge needed for 3

employment, the community colleges refers to instructions “regionally accredited to award the associate in arts or the associate in science as its highest degree” (Cohen & Brawer, 2003, p. 379). In addition, community colleges upgrade skills for that person already in the workforce. “Associate’s colleges constitute 42 percent of all accredited higher education institutions and served approximately 40 percent of all students enrolled in accredited, degree-granting higher education institutions in 1998" (Hurtado, 2003, p. 28). The four-year universities and colleges are institutions of higher education that are usually comprises of a liberal arts and a science college. The difference between a university and a college is that a university is usually larger and offers advanced degrees in addition to undergraduate degrees (Thelin, 2003, p. 11). The universities typically enroll 21% of all students in higher education (Hurtado, 2003, p. 28). The baccalaureate colleges typically enroll 15% of the students in higher education (p. 28). While the community colleges offer associate degrees for the first 2 years of college, the universities and colleges offer all 4 years for a bachelor degree, and they may also offer masters degrees and doctorates. 4

There are American universities that are “Institute of Technology” that were established after World War I (Diener, 1986; Levine, 1986). These are generally research-intensive universities with a focus on engineering, science, and technology (Cohen & Brawer, 2003). These institutes are primarily at the community college level. However, many bachelor degree granting institutions will accept students’ first two years from an Institute of Technology as transfer credit. Proprietary (private) colleges have a long tradition in the United States. Dating from the time of the first colleges such as Harvard, “today these [proprietary colleges] out-number the public institutions by approximately 345 degree-granting institutions” (Hurtado, 2003, p. 40). More than half of the private institutions are affiliated with religious organizations (p. 40). Various funding patterns exist for colleges and universities. The 2-year colleges are generally classified as public and independent while including both for-profit and nonprofit. Public colleges and universities are subsidized by the states in which they are located and are generally less expensive. Independent colleges include church-related 5

institutions, private nonprofit institutions, and proprietary colleges and institutes of technology that are organized like business corporations (Cohen & Brawer, 2003, p. 106). Proprietary colleges do not receive tax subsides; in other words, they operate much like a business and are essentially tax-paying institutions (p. 40). National Academic Advising Association Although the concept of academic advising has a long history, the development of a professional academic advisor did not become a reality until the last 1970's with the introduction of the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA). The first statewide Academic Advising Conference was held on September 20, 1976, in Fresno, California (Beatty, 1991). Then in 1977 the first National Academic Advising Association conference was held in Burlington, Vermont (Beatty, 1991). As of today, the National Association has more than 10,000 members. All 50 states, Puerto Rico, Canada, and several other countries are represented in NACADA. Attendance at NACADA’s annual conferences are more than 2,000 a year (NACADA, 2009). NACADA has become a leader in the “development of professional and faculty advisors and administrators” (NACADA, Regions in Action, nd.). The vision 6

statement for the association is as follows: NACADA is the leader within the global education community for the theory, delivery, application and advancement of academic advising to enhance student learning and development. (NACADA, About NACADA n.d.) Continuing Professional Education NACADA is the primary professional development organization for academic advisors. Because it provides continuing education for its members, it is a quasi- educational organization (Darkenwald & Merriam, 1982, p. 166). Quasi-educational is an “occupational associations, which are voluntary membership organizations whose principal purpose is to advance the interests of a particular profession or occupational group” (p. 166). Cyril O. Houle was the one who popularized the concept of Continuing Professional Education (Cervero, 1988). In his book on the topic, Learning in the Professions, Houle (1980) questioned the use of the word “education” with professional development and used the word “learning” in the title instead of “education.” Chiefly because this primary emphasis is upon the actions of the individuals and groups who seek to fulfill their own potentialities. Learning is the process by which people gain knowledge, sensitiveness, or mastery of skills through experience or study. (preface, xi) 7

Continuing Professional Education (CPE)serves several functions. It: Focuses on programming for persons who have earned their professional qualifications in some field and who have subsequently sought additional educational experience to remind them of what they once knew and forgotten, to acquaint them with knowledge that has developed since they earned their qualification, and to help them solve personal and professional problems of various kinds. (Griffith, 1985, p. 102) Consequently, Continuing Professional Education is the practice and study that is directed to the on-going learning needs of professionals (Cervero, 2001). “CPE is part of the field of Adult Education which clarified its foundational base in the 1960's and early 1970's and which grounds itself in the works of Houle, Knowles, and Cervero” (Sleezer, Conti, & Nolan, 2004, pp. 23-24). “CPE is embedded in the field of Adult Education which relies heavily on Knowles’ (1970) theory” (p. 25). Knowles contributed heavily to the field of Adult Education by developing two foundational theories of adult learning (Merriam, 2001, p. 3). These two “pillars of adult learning theory” (p. 3) are andragogy and self-directed learning. Andragogy Malcolm Knowles (1970) developed the modern concept of andragogy. Andragogy is “the art and science of helping 8

adults learn” (p. 38). Knowles’ instructional model, which is based on assumptions about how adults learn, is a learner-centered approach for students of all ages. Andragogy assumes that adults are active learners involved in all steps of the learning process from selection of the learning topic to evaluation. Knowles’ concept of andragogy is based upon a set of assumption. Originally, Knowles proposed four assumptions, but then later added two more assumptions. Andragogy makes the following assumptions about the design of learning: 1.Adults need to know why they need to learn something before undertaking to learn it. 2.Adults have a self-concept of being responsible for their own lives. 3.Adults come into an educational activity with both a greater volume and a different quality of experience than youths. 4.Adults become ready to learn those things they need to know. 5.Adults are life centered (or task centered or problem centered) in their orientation learning. 6.While adults are responsive to some extrinsic motivators they tend to be intrinsic motivators. (Knowles, 1989, pp. 83-84) In practical terms, andragogy means that instruction for adults needs to focus more on the process and less on the content being taught. Strategies such as case studies, role, playing, simulations, and self-evaluation are most useful for helping adults learn (Knowles, 1984). 9

Self-Directed Learning Knowles (1975) provided the basic definition for self- directed learning. Self-directed learning is: A process in which individuals take the initiative, with or without the help of others, in diagnosing their learning needs, formulating learning goals, identifying human and material resources for learning, choosing and implementing appropriate learning strategies, and evaluating learning outcomes. (p. 18) Self-directed learning is a concept that learning can be constructed either in or out of the formal institutional environment. Voluntary learning is a common activity for adults. Tough’s (1971) research in the late 1960's and 1970's found that “highly deliberate efforts to learn take place all around you” (p. 3). Together these concepts of andragogy and self-directed learning lead to a focus on a learner-centered approach to education. Individual Differences “This learner-centered focus mandates that individual differences be identified” (McClellan & Conti, 2008, p. 14). Two ways of examining these individual differences in the field of Adult Education has been by addressing learning styles and learning strategies (Fellenz & Conti, 1989, pp. 10

6-9). Learning styles are a complex manner in which learners efficiently perceive, process, store, and recall what they are attempting to learn (Merriam & Caffarella, 1999, p. 209). Learning styles are generally established and are steady throughout the learner’s life (Fellenz & Conti, 1989, p. 8). Learning strategies are “the techniques or skills that an individual elects to use in order to accomplish a learning task. They differ from learning style in that they are techniques rather than stable traits, and they are selected for a specific task” (Fellenz & Conti, 1989, pp. 7- 8). Individuals use varying learning strategies to accomplish different tasks (p. 8). However, research has shown that adult learners fall into three broad learning strategy preference groups (Conti, 2009). These have been termed Navigators, Problem Solvers, and Engagers. Navigators are “focused learners who chart a course for learning and follow it” (Conti, 2009, p. 893). Problem Solvers “generate alternatives to create additional learning options” (p. 894). Engagers “learn best when they are actively engaged in a meaningful manner with the learning task” (p. 894). “The key to learning is engagement - a 11

relationship between the learner, the task or subject matter, the environment, and the teacher” (Kidd, 1973, p. 266). Learning strategy preferences are a cognitive process. Cognitive processing involves cognition and is “the study of how people receive, store, retrieve, transform, and transmit information” (Merriam & Caffarella, 1991, p. 159). Learning strategies focus on how people perceive elements in their learning environment and how they then select to go about a learning task (Fellenz & Conti, 1989, p. 7). These are related to how an adult goes about learning how to learn (Smith, 1982, p. 17). Decision-Making Styles Another cognitive process is decision-making. Decision-making is a very important human skill. Whether making a judgement or a choice, decision-making affects the quality of life’s success on a personal level, organizational level, and educational level (Kearsley, n.d.). It is theorized that people process, obtain, organize, and communicate learning and knowledge in different ways (Ryan & David, 2003, p. 693). One of those processes is decision making. Decision making is the type of cognitive 12

activity that is being engaged when a person encounters a situation where choice is made from a set of options. “Cognitive style is the manner in which individuals take in data from the outside world and make decisions based on the data” (Scott & Bruce, 1995, p. 819). When making decisions, people revert to habitual patterns, and these patterns are referred to as decision-making styles (p. 818). “Decision- making style is defined by the amount of information gathered and the number of alternatives considered when making a decision” (p. 819). Harren (1979) argues that in decision making a person will have a preferred decision-making style. Unless the environment changes or interferes, a person will tend to use a primary style of decision making for each decision. Theory and empirical research suggest that an individual makes decisions from one of these five positions: (a) rational, (b) intuitive, (c) dependent, (d) avoidance, and (5) spontaneous (Scott & Bruce, 1995). Decision-making styles play a role in academic advising because advisors “help students analyze their own strategies for making decisions and help them improve these strategies. They [advisors] can teach decision-making skills. They [advisors] can also help students take responsibilities for 13

the decisions they have made” (Gordon, 1992, p. 14). Ways of Knowing A cognitive style that relates to how people approach new knowledge is labeled ways of knowing. “Ways of knowing refers to the modes of thinking in which people construct or adopt one or more ways of obtaining, reflecting on, evaluating, and communicating knowledge” (Galotti, et al., 1999, p. 746). In ways of knowing, there are two distinct types of orientations to the ways of knowing; they have been labeled as separate and connected knowers (Clinchy, 1990). Separate knowers distance themselves from the ideas of others and think critically. They prefer to challenge or debate things. Separate knowers are seen as critical thinkers (Galotti, 1998). This type of critical thinking is: Thinking that examines assumptions behind conclusions. It is rational--it is reasoning that is uncontaminated by emotions or personal feeling. It is rigorous--it seeks and finds the “holes” in an argument, the alterative explanations of a phenomenon, the contradictions of mission statement, the implications of a policy change. (p. 281) Separate knowers take nothing at face value and take no assumption for granted (p. 282). Connecting knowers are personal and collaborative. Connected knowers draw on personal experiences and 14

reactions. Connecting knowing is more prevalent among females (Galotti, 1998). The connected knower: Doesn’t try to evaluate the perspective she is examining; she tries to understand it. She does not ask whether is it right; she asks what it means. When she says, Why do you think that? She doesn’t mean, What evidence do you have to back that up? She means, What in your experience led you to that position? She is looking for the story behind the idea. The voice of separate knowing is argument; the voice of connected knowing is a narrative voice. (Clinchy, 1990, p. 64) Where separate knowers take nothing at face value, connected knowers “in a sense takes everything at face value” (Galotti, 1998, p. 282). Multicultural Awareness Worldview is how someone see the culture of the world. Our cultural identity is understanding who we are and how someone else perceives us as a member of a particular cultural group (p. 6). Our cultural worldview and identity-which are inextricably intertwined-then, are not something we are born with, but rather are something that we have learned and that will continue to develop over the course of our lives. (Cunningham, 2007, p. 6) Cultural identity has several components. These include “ethnicity, race, religion, gender identity, affective/ sexual orientation, personality type, age cohort, body image, learning style, educational attainment, job functions 15

and position, leadership style...and so on” (Cunningham, 2007, p. 10). With so many components of cultural identity, it is important that academic advisors have a multi-cultural awareness of their advisees. It is essential that academic advisors be able to deal with this diversity resulting from the various cultural backgrounds of students with whom they advise. “Cultural competence is a set of academic and interpersonal skills that allow people to increase their understanding and appreciation of cultural differences and similarities within, among, and between groups” (U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1994, Chpt. 1). While people can learn to understand and appreciate different cultures, they must not allow these generalizations to cause them to stereotype or over-simplify their idea about others (Cunningham, 2007, p 2). Problem “There is a great deal of evidence to indicate that most professionals now embrace the seriousness of lifelong professional education” (Cervero, 1989, p. 514). This statement is powerful especially when it comes to professional academic advising. Although academic advising is typically not considered to be a profession, those 16

involved in it are referred to as professionals by students and administrators in higher education (Gillespie, 2005). Academic advisors are expected to conduct their work with a high degree of professionalism (Huggett, 2000, p. 46). To achieve these high expectations, academic advisors are constantly striving to improve their professional skills. This is especially so when it comes to student development (Frost, 1991, p. 18). Advisors work with student development in a critical area that can affect a student’s success. Academic advisors help students with the process of decision making, of making sense of their world, and of understanding how they go about learning. Before striving to help students in these areas, academic advisors should be aware of these cognitive processes and of cultural factors affecting their students. Through this metacognitive process, they cannot only understand themselves better as learners but can also gain an awareness of how these processes operate. Although there are important individual differences in these cognitive processes, there is currently no information about academic advisors’ decision-making styles, ways of knowing, learning strategy preferences, or level of multicultural awareness. Student development is an area that changes frequently. 17

Consequently, professional development activities are an on- going need. However, it is difficult to plan professional development activities for academic advisors related to the cognitive processes of decision making, ways of knowing, learning strategy preferences, and multicultural awareness without a current profile of academic advisors in these areas. Without such a profile, training programs will remain generic in nature instead of tailored specifically to the field of academic advisors, and no reference point will exist for individual academic advisors to relate their decision-making styles, ways of knowing, learning strategy preferences, and level of multicutural awareness to those of the overall field. Purpose Statement The purpose of this study was to describe the decision- making styles, ways of knowing, learning strategy preferences, and multicultural awareness levels of the members of the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA). This was done by surveying the members of NACADA related to their decision-making style by using the General Decision-Making Style (GDMS) survey. Their ways of knowing was measured with the Attitudes Toward Thinking and Learning (ATTLS) survey. Their learning strategy preference was 18

identified by using the Assessing The Learning Strategies of AdultS (ATLAS) instrument. Their multi-cultural awareness level was identified with the Cultural Appreciation in Lifelong Learning (CALL) instrument. Research Questions The Adult Education program at Oklahoma State University is conducting a programmatic line of inquiry related to cognitive styles. This study is part of this line of inquiry. In order for this study to be interpreted with the results of the other studies in this programmatic line of inquiry, the research questions used for this study were patterned after that of Sanders (2008). Sanders investigated the decision-making styles, learning strategy preferences, and ways of knowing for customers of the One-Stop Career Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The following research question guided this study. 1.What is the decision-making profile of the participants using the General Decision- Making Style (GDMS) survey? 2.What is the learning ways of knowing profile of participants using the Attitudes Toward Thinking and Learning Survey(ATTLS)? 3.What is the learning strategy preference profile of participants using the Assessing The Learning Strategies of Adults (ATLAS)? 4.What is the multicultural awareness profile of the participants using the Cultural Appreciation in Lifelong Learning (CALL)? 5.What is the relationship of the participants’ 19

decision-making style to the demographic variables of age, gender, level of education, ethnic background, type of institution employed, level of advisement, years of advisement, and type of advisor? 6.What is the relationship of the participants’ ways of knowing to the demographic variables of age, gender, level of education, ethnic background, type of institution employed, level of advisement, years of advisement, and type of advisor? 7.What is the relationship of the participants’ learning strategy preferences to the demographic variables of age, gender, level of education, ethnic background, type of institution employed, level of advisement, years of advisement, and type of advisor? 8.What is the relationship of the participants’ multicutural awareness level to the demographic variables of age, gender, level of education, ethnic background, type of institution employed, level of advisement, years of advisement, and type of advisor? 9.What is the interaction among participants’ decision-making style, ways of knowing preference, learning strategy preference, and cultural appreciation levels. Data were gathered to answer these research questions from the following sources and were analyzed with the following procedures: 20

Question Data Source Procedure 1.Decision-making style profile GDMS Frequency distributions, factor analysis, and Cronbach’s alpha 2.Ways of knowing profile ATTLS Frequency distributions, factor analysis, and Cronbach’s alpha 3.Learning strategy preference profile ATLAS Frequency distributions and chi square 4. Multicutural awareness preference profile CALL Frequency distributions and chi square 5.Relationships of decision- making styles, and demographic variables. GDMS and demographic survey ANOVA 6.Relationships of ways, and demographic variables. ATTLS and demographic survey ANOVA 7.Relationships of learning strategy preferences, and demographic variables. ATLAS and demographic survey Chi square 8.Relationships of multicultural awareness preferences, and demographic variables. CALL and demographic survey Chi square 9.Interaction of decision- making style, ways of knowing, learning strategy preferences, and cultural appreciation levels GDMS, ATTLS, ATLAS, and CALL Discriminant analysis 21

Conceptual Framework Although the central question of how adults learn has been the focus of attention for adult educators since the development of the professional field of practice in the 1920s and although no single model has emerged to explain how adults learn, the two structural pillars for the field have been the theories of andragogy and self-directed learning (Merriam, 2001, p. 3). These two foundational theories “describe adult learning as a learner-centered activity. This focus mandates that individual differences be identified” (McClellan & Conti, 2008, p. 14). The quest for understanding individual differences has a long history in the study of learning and in education. These efforts are associated with the concept of “style” (Riding, 1997, p. 2). While style is used in a variety of contexts, it is “always associated with individuality and is invariably used to describe an individual quality, form, activity, or behavior sustained over time” (p. 2). When this is applied to individual differences in cognition, it is referred to as cognitive style. Stemming from the work of Jung in the 1920s (Sternberg & Grigorenko, 1997, p. 701) and the work by Allport in 1937, cognitive style can be viewed “as a person’s typical or habitual mode of problem 22

Full document contains 268 pages
Abstract: Academic advisors help students with the process of decision making, of making sense of their world, of understanding how they go about learning, and of understanding how to appreciate diversity in their world. If advisors are to help students in these areas, academic advisors should be aware of the cognitive processes of how they make sense of the world and of how they approach learning situations. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to describe the cognitive style dimensions of decision-making styles, ways of knowing, learning strategy preferences, and cultural awareness levels of the members of the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA). To do this, data were collected over the Internet from 360 members of NACADA using the General Decision-Making Survey (GDMS), the Attitude Toward Thinking and Learning Survey (ATTLS), Assessing The Learning Strategies of AdultS (ATLAS), and the Cultural Appreciation in Lifelong Learning (CALL). In addition, data were gathered on the following demographic variables: gender, age, race, education level, advising experience, role in institution, type of institution, degrees offered at the institution, region, and size of institution. Prior to constructing profiles of the participants on each of the instruments, the reliability for the GDMS and the ATTLS and the factor structures for this sample were confirmed. For decision-making style, the NACADA members overwhelmingly use the logical, rational style as their primary decision-making style. The overall scores for both scales of ways of knowing were very similar with no difference on either due to gender as hypothesized by the authors of the instrument. For learning strategy preference, the NACADA members had more people who initiate learning activities by generating alternatives than found in the general population, and as a group they prefer initiating learning from the cognitive domain rather than the affective domain. In terms of cultural appreciation, NACADA members are open to cultural diversity. No practical relationships were found between any of the instruments and the demographic variables. Likewise, discriminant analysis revealed no meaningful interaction among the four cognitive style dimensions. Conclusions were drawn related to decision-making styles, ways of knowing, learning strategy preferences, cultural appreciation levels, and cognitive processes. These include conclusions about the structure of the instruments, the relationships to demographic variables, the independence of the four cognitive style dimensions in the study, and the cognitive style approaches of members of NACADA. Recommendations were made for how these could be used to influence academic advising. .