Many universities now enrol students on their
degree programmes from a broad age range with a
variety of entry qualifications. This has caused a
shift from an elite to a mass higher education
system that has affected aspects of teaching and
learning. Much research has been carried out into
the relationship between preferred learning style
(PLS) and effective learning. There is evidence to
suggest that a large proportion of those in a
specific profession have the same PLS and that
there is no overall gender difference in respect of
PLS. However, little seems to be known regarding
age differences in the PLS of those studying for a
This paper briefly discusses existing PLS research
and explains the choice of tool used to determine
the PLS of the sample. It then reports on the
findings of a small-scale study of 153 design and
technology students (aged between 18 and 54)
studying at three different universities in England.
The results support the belief that there is a
relationship between PLS and specific professions.
However, they also indicate that the spread of PLS
ratios lessen the older the students become, and
that there are differences in PLS in terms of a
student’s age and gender.
The paper concludes that there are implications
for teaching strategies if materials are to meet the
needs of all students in mixed aged cohorts even if
they are studying for a given profession. The
findings would suggest that further research is
required to identify ways in which classroom
practice could be enhanced as a consequence of
the evidence presented in this paper.