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T. Kafadar, B. Tay. Learning strategies and learning styles used by students in social studies. International Journal of Academic
Research Part B; 2014; 6(2), 259-267. DOI: 10.7813/2075-4124.2014/6-2/B.39
Library of Congress Class ification: L7-991
LEARNING STRATEGIES AND LEARNING STYLES
USED BY STUDENTS IN SOCIAL STUDIES*
Tugba Kafadar1, Bayram Tay2
1Marmara University, Institute of Education Sciences, Istanbul
2Ahi Evran University, Faculty of Education, Kirsehir (TURKEY)
E-mails: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Received: 28 Sept, 2013
Accepted: 15 Mar, 2014
It can be important to be known students’ learning features to increase efficiency of learning process in
social studies lesson that aims educating efficient citizens. Therefore, in this study the learning strategies used by
students, their learning styles and whether or not their learning strategies are changing according to their learning
styles are researched. The data in this study, which is a cross sectional survey, were collected through the
learning strategies developed by Tay (2002) on the basis of the classification of learning strategies performed by
Gagne and Dricscoll (1988) and Kolb learning style inventory III which was adopted into Turkish by Evin Gencel
(2006). As a result of the research it was identified that while students mostly use affective strategies they use
coding and monitoring strategies at very least, they have mainly decomposition style and this style is followed by
arrangement, assimilation and alteration styles. Furthermore, it have been recognized that students’ learning
strategies are changing according to learning styles they have. It is concluded that in all learning strategies the
students who have decomposition learning style use strategy more in significant level than those who have
Key words: Social Studies, Learning Strategies, Learning Styles
Social studies is a scope of science which aims the citizen education and was included into curriculum for
elementary schools’ 4th and 7th classes in Turkey while it started for all classes from preschool education to 12th
class in USA in the late nineteenth century (Ozturk, Yigit & Karaduman, 2012).. In this lesson, it is needed to
increase efficiency of learning process to educate active citizens. Individual differences should be taken into
consideration to increase effectiveness of the learning process. In this respect each person in learning process is
different from each other in way of their characteristics. Some of these differences can have some variances such
as learning strategies, learning styles, intelligence fields and study habits.
Learning strategies are the total effort that the students need to process, understand and adopt the
information introduced in learning-teaching processes or in their individual preparation (Tay, 2013). In other words
learning strategies can be described as the whole of the performed activities of learner to give meaning to
information in cognitive and affective processes (Kafadar, 2013a). As it is understood from definitions, learning
strategies include more than one activity. Different classifications of these activities are seen (Kirby, 1984 cited in
Hewitt, 2008; Weinstein & Mayer, 1986; Mayer, 1988; Hartley, 1998; Gagne & Driscoll, 1988; O’ Malley, Russo,
Chamot & Stewner-Manzares, 1988; O’Malley & Chamot, 1990; Oxford, 1990; Ozturk, 1995; Riding & Rayner,
1998; Warr & Downing). Learning strategies that underline this study are classified into two categories as
cognitive and affective by Gagne & Driscoll (1988). Cognitive strategies are separated into five sub-groups as;
attention strategy, storage strategies in short time memory, coding strategies, restoration strategies and
monitoring strategies. Affective strategies are collected under four subtitle that to enable to continue attention,
assist to increase convenience, provide to increase confidence and enable satisfaction.
Attention strategy: Self learning student can adopt a few attention strategies depending on targeted
learning (Gagne & Driscoll, 1988). Highlighting and taking note are among the attention strategies.
Storage strategies in short time memory: According to Flavell (1970) and Flavell & Wellman (1977) for
reason of limitedness capacity of short time memory and limitedness of information duration, students can adopt
restoration and grouping strategies to decrease this limitedness (cited in Gagne &Driscoll, 1988).
* T his article is produced from T ugba Kafadar's master thesis which was accepted at Ahi Evran Universit y, Institute of Social Sciences in June
2013 and supervised by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Ba yram Tay.
260 | PART B. SOCIAL SCIENCES AND HUMANITIES www.ijar.eu
Coding strategies: Coding (interpretation) is a process that makes connection between new learned
information and previous information (Filcher & Miller, 2000). According to Rohwer (1970) using of coding
strategies is making symbolic structure to contribute information that should be learned by student. Summarizing
for own words, making question, grouping are among some coding strategies.
Restoration strategies: Restoration of information from long term memory, connected to largely how well it
is coded initially and storaged (Ormrod, 1990). In other words how information is storaged in long term memory as
efficiently by giving meaning the easier it is restored (Senemoglu, 2010).
Monitoring strategies: These strategies include forming learning targets for educational activities of
students, assessing to what extent these targets occurred and changing these strategies conditionally to achieve
objectives (Weinstein & Mayer, 1986).
Cognitive Strategies: learning and motivation are closely related processes (Dembo, 2004). Sometimes
students use appropriate learning strategies, nevertheless they may have difficulties to reach their learning
These difficulties can be resulted from motivation and sentimental factors rather than being cognitive.
These factors are called as sentimental strategies. Students can achieve their top level learning’s by using
sentimental strategies, as well. To achieve top level learning students should provide four conditions as attention,
convenience, trust and satisfaction (Gagne & Driscoll, 1988).
Learning strategies that the individual uses in the process of education are closely related with his or her
learning style. According to Riding & Rayner (1998) learning styles based on learning tradition explain personal
differences on learning of model process and for this reason learning styles are closely related with learning
strategies. While strategies can be learned and changed, learning styles remain stable and unchanged
characteristics of person.
Learning styles show difference from individual to another, and they are the preferences of the individual in
information acquisition process (Kafadar, 2013a). In another definition, learning style is cognitive, sentimental and
physiologic educations of the individual that have relatively consistent indicators of how person perceive learning
environment, how they interact with another and show reaction (Keefe 1979 cited in Reid, 1987). When literature
is analyzed a lot of learning styles are viable (Jung, 1923; Dunn & Dunn, 1974, Grasha & Reichmann, from 1974
cited in Riding & Rayner, 1998; Honey & Mumford, from 1986 cited in Pritchard, 2009; Felder & Silverman, 1988;
Kolb, 1984). In this research classification of experimental learning style of Kolb is used.
Kolb’s experimental learning model depends on learning models of Piaget, William James, John Dewey,
Kurt Lewin, Carl Rogers and Paulo Freire (Kolb & Kolb, 2009; Baker, Jensen & Kolb, 2002; Trinh & Kolb, 2012;
Kolb & Kolb, 2008). According to experimental learning theory learning is a cycle. Learning styles of each person
are components of these four basic learning models. Combined scores present different preferences of person
from abstract to concrete (SK-SY), from active to reflector (AY-YG) and shows which learning styles the person
has. Learning styles determined in model are defined based on thinking and creativeness theories. The
component of concrete experience and reflective screening of diverge, the component of reflective observing and
types of abstract conceptualization is assimilator, the component of abstract conceptualization and active life style
is converge and the component of concrete experience with active life styles is accommodator learning styles
(Sharma & Kolb, 2010).
So many researches have been done about learning styles of learning strategies (Pask, 1976; Ehrman &
Oxford, 1990; Paterson & Rosbottom, 1995; Vermunt, 1996; Givan, 1997; Nunn, 1995; Pei-Shi, 2012; Guven,
2004; Celenk & Karakis, 2007). But in terms of social studies there is not study that researches relation between
learning strategies used by students with learning styles. It is expected that this study contributes a lot to studies
about learning strategies, styles and fields of social studies. On the other hand within the scope of social studies it
is thought that to be known of learning strategies of students and owned learning styles will make essential
contribution in teachers of social studies and programmers and designers
In this study it is tried to define learning strategies of students of 5th, 6th and 7th classes that they use in
social studies with learning styles that they have. In accordance with this main objective answers are looked for
questions at below:
To what extent are students of 5th, 6th and 7th classes using learning strategies in social studies?
Which learning styles do students of 5th, 6th and 7th classes have?
Are learning strategies of students of 5th, 6th and 7th classes in social studies changing depending on
their learning styles?
2.1. Research Method
Descriptive (survey) model was used in this research in order to identify learning strategies used by
students of 5th, 6th and 7th classes and their learning strategies in social studies. Descriptive research could be
dealt with as proving what livings, already existing and lived are by being described and explained (Sonmez &
Alacapinar, 2011). Descriptive researches could be classified as cross sectional, longitudinal and retroactive
researches (Fraenkel & Wallen, 2006; Gorard, 2006: Johnson & Christensen, from 2004’ cited in Buyukozturk,
Kilic Cakmak, Akgun, Karadeniz & Demirel, 2012). This research is from cross sectional model because data is
collected at once from already alive and existing students who are 5th, 6th and 7th classes.
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2.2. Working Group
Delimited universe is used in this research. In this respect working universe is the secondary schools in
central district of Kayseri Province. From this working universe 4 schools were specified by means of random
sampling and students of 5th, 6th and 7th classes composed working group. Demographical characteristics of
students in working group are indicated by tables at the below:
Table 1. Distribution of students to class and sex
Sex 5. class 6. class 7. class
f % f % f %
Female 316 54.0 270 53.0 213 54.6
Male 269 46.0 239 47.0 177 45.4
Total 585 100 509 100 390 100
When table 1 is analyzed it can be said that students of sampling in research are close to each other in
respect of sex. While female students are including 54% of sampling, male students constitute approximately 46%
2.3. Data Collecting Tools
In this study data collecting tool was used. Information about data collecting tools is given in the following
2.3.1. Learning Strategies Data Collecting Tool
Within the context of research data collecting tool was used which was developed by Tay (2002) in order
to specify learning strategies that students used in social studies. This data collecting tool was created on the
basis of classification made by Gagne and Driscol (1988) and it was prepared for social studies.
Data collecting tool composes of two sections. In the first section it was given information to person who
would answer questionnaire about objective of questionnaire and questions about demographic characteristics.
The second section consists of 6 mid-section and 44 articles in total. In these sub-sections; there are 6 items for
attention strategies, 7 items for storage in short term memory strategies, 18 items for strengthen understanding
(coding), 2 items for restore (remember) strategies, 6 items for motivation strategies, 5 items for monitoring
strategies. Data collecting tool is the type of trio likert (every time, sometimes, never). Data collecting tool is
calculated as.93 in Cronbach Alpha reliability coefficient.
2.3.2. Learning Styles Data Collecting Tool
Within the context of research, Kolb’s learning styles Inventory-Version III data collecting tool adapted by
Evin Gencel (2006) to Turkish was used to determine learning styles of students. In this data collecting tool 12
complementary items exist. 4 options in every one of items are graded between 1 and 4. Highest score of
Inventory is 12, the lowest is 48. After this grade complementary scores are calculated Complementary scores
abstract conceptualizing are acquired as (A. C.)- Concrete Experience (C.E.) and Active Experience (A.E.)-
Reflective Observation (R.O.) and as consequence of this process obtained scores are changing between -36
and +36. Positive score got by A.C.-C.E. means learning is abstract, negative score means learning is concrete;
accordingly, scores getting by A.E-R.O shows learning is active or reflective. Combined scores are placed on
coordinate system. Number getting by A.E-R.O is placed x number axis, number getting by A.C. and C.E. is
placed on y axis and the space crossing that two numbers shows learning style of person.
2.3.3. The Data Obtaining Process
While data was collected from schools within the scope of research it was said them to specify nickname
and to write every inventory with their nicknames. Personal information form and learning strategies inventory
were applied to students at the first week. Other week learning style inventory was applied.. In the research data
collecting process was completed at 4 schools in 6 weeks. Collected data was matched by analyzing by one by
and taking attention to nicknames. In these matches 147 data collecting tools were not evaluated that were
convicted to not coding correctly and data resolution process was occurred with 1484 data in total.
2.4. Analyzes of Data
In research SPSS 17.00 package program was used in analyzing process of data. In resolution of data as
being appropriately to objective of research distribution of frequency (f), percentage (%) aricmatic average (
and standard deviation (SD) were calculated. On the other hand whether data showed normal distribution in
making comparison in multiple variances or not was analyzed by means of Kolmogorov smirnov normality test
and after seeing that data showed normal distribution, one-way analysis of variance was used in multiple
variances. When significant difference was found in one way analysis of variances, source of difference was
tested in Tukey.
In evaluation scale used in interpretation of calculated average values, in determination of group value
a= Ranj/group number formula was used (Tasdemir, 2000). Accordingly limits of items in data collecting
tools of learning strategies are such as below
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Table 2. Scoring of data collecting items and learning strategies
Authorized weight Qualification Groups Limits
3 I do every time 3–2.33
2 I do som etimes 2.32–1.65
1 never 1.64–1
In social studies standard deviation and arithmetic average were calculated for usage of learning
strategies of students of 5th, 6th and 7th classes in every class level and results were given on table at below:
Table 3. In social studies level of learning strategies used by 5th, 6th and 7th class students
Learning strategies Class n
5. class 585 2.46 .36 I do every time
6. class 509 2.49 .37 I do every time
7. class 390 2.53 .30 I do every time
Storage strategies in
short term memory
5. class 585 2.27 .36 I do sometimes
6. class 509 2.33 .37 I do every time
7. class 390 2.42 .34 I do every time
5. class 585 2.19 .34 I do sometimes
6. class 509 2.26 .38 I do sometimes
7. class 390 2.30 .36 I do sometimes
5. class 585 2.52 .50 I do every time
6. class 509 2.54 .53 I do every time
7. class 390 2.61 .44 I do every time
5. class 585 2.15 .44 I do sometimes
6. class 509 2.26 .41 I do sometimes
7. class 390 2.30 .38 I do sometimes
5. class 585 2.57 .43 I do every time
6. class 509 2.62 .43 I do every time
7. class 390 2.65 .35 I do every time
According to Table 3, it is seen that students of 5th, 6th and 7th classes use affective strategies at most,
they use coding and monitoring strategies at the very least Again in Table 3 in all class levels usage of attention,
coding, restoration, monitoring and affective strategies are at same level. Only while students of 5th class are at
sometimes range level, students of 6th and 7th classes are at every time level. Moreover, it is understood that
ascending sort of arithmetic averages in all learning strategies is in way of 5th, 6th and 7th classes.
For learning styles of students of 5th, 6th and 7th class’s frequencies and percentage scores were
calculated and results were given at below:
Table 4. Descriptive data related with learning styles of 5th, 6th and 7th classes’ students
5. Class 6. Class 7. Class
Learning Styles f % F % f %
Converge 315 53.8 284 55.8 209 53.6
Assimilation 82 14.0 66 13.0 41 10.5
Alteration 66 11.3 48 9.4 39 10.0
Accommodator 122 20.9 111 21.8 101 25.9
Total 585 100 509 100 390 100
According to Table 4. while students of 5th class mostly have decomposition learning style (53.8%), this
learning style is followed by accommodator (20.9%) and assimilation (14%) learning styles. Learning style that
students have least is alteration (11.3%).
To table 4, 6th class students mostly have converge learning style (55.8%), this learning style is followed
by accommodator (21.8%) and assimilation (13%) learning styles. Learning style that students have least is
alteration (9.4%). According to table 4. While 7th class students mostly have accommodator learning style
(53.6%), this learning style is followed by converge (25.9%) and assimilation (10.5%) learning styles. Learning
style that 7th class students have least is alteration (10%).
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Table 5. Variance analysis results of learning strategies that the 5th,
6th and 7th class students use of learning styles
Sum of Squares
df Mean Square F p Significant difference
Between Groups 2.446 3 .815 6.820 .000 a-o
WithinGroups 176.944 1480 .120
Total 179.390 1483
Storage in short term
BetweenGroups 2.113 3 .704 5.385 .001 a-o
WithinGroups 193.574 1480 .131 a-d
Total 195.687 1483 a- y
BetweenGroups 2.254 3 .751 5.833 .001 a-o
WithinGroups 190.641 1480 .129 a-y
Total 192.895 1483
BetweenGroups 2.458 3 .819 3.390 .017 a-o
WithinGroups 357.751 1480 .242
Total 360.210 1483
BetweenGroups 3.516 3 1.172 6.698 .000 a-o
WithinGroups 258.986 1480 .175 a-d
Total 262.503 1483
BetweenGroups 4.699 3 1.566 9.514 .000 a-o
WithinGroups 243.672 1480 .165 a-d
Total 248.371 1483
According to Table 5, it is found out that learning strategies of students of 5th, 6th and 7th classes show
significant difference according to their learning styles in social studies [(F(attentio n)= 6.820; p˂0.05); (F(short term
storage)= 5.385; p˂0.05); (F(coding)= 5.833; p˂0.05); (F(restoration)= 3.390; p˂0.05); (F(monitoring)= 6.698; p˂0.05);
(F(affective)= 9.514; p˂0.05)]. This difference is as follows according to every one of learning strategy:
Differentiation is on favor of learning style between converge in attention strategies (
=2.41). It can be said that attention strategies are mostly used significantly by converge learning
style than those who have assimilation learning style
In storage in short term memory strategies differentiation is on favor of learning style between difference
=2.36) and assimilation (
=2.29); between converge (
=2.36) and alteration (
between converge (
=2.36) and accommodator (
=2.30). It can be said that storage in short term memory
strategies are used more at significant level by those who have converge learning style than those who have both
assimilation and alteration and accommodator learning styles. It can be said that coding strategies are used more
at significant level by those who have converge learning style than those who have both assimilation and
alteration and accommodator learning styles.
In restoration strategies, converge is in favor of learning style between difference converge (
=2.48). It can be said that restoration strategies are used more at significant level by those who
have converge learning style than those who have assimilation learning styles.
In Monitoring strategies differentiation is on favor of learning style between difference converge (
and assimilation (
=2.18) between converge (
=2.27) and alteration (
=2.12). It can be said that Monitoring
strategies are used more at significant level by those who have converge learning style than those who have both
assimilation learning styles and alteration learning styles.
In affective strategies differentiation is on favor of learning style between difference converge (
and assimilation (
=2.54) and between converge (
=2.65) and alteration. It can be said that affective strategies
are used more at significant level by those who have converge learning style than those who have both
assimilation learning styles and alteration learning styles.
4. DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION
It is seen that students of 5th, 6th and 7th classes use affective strategies at most while they use coding
and monitoring strategies at the very least level. Tay (2002) determined in his research conducted with students
of 4th, 5th and 5th classes that students always used their affective strategies on every time level in social
studies. Once again Dikbas and Kaf Hasirci (2008) identified that students of 5th class always used motivation
strategies on every time level in social studies. Kafadar (2013b) discovered that students of 7th class mostly used
affective strategies. All the same Kontas (2010) identified genius students of 6th, 7th and 8th classes mostly used
affective strategies. Karalar (2006) in his research which identified learning strategies of 6th, 7th and 8th students
in social studies recognized that students used affective strategies at most. In addition to that sampling group is
different but Hamurcu (2002) and Ersozlu (2010) found out that preservice teachers use affective strategies at
Stefanou and Salisbury-Glennon (2002) determined that students used monitoring strategies less in their
research aiming to determine learning strategies of students in learner based schools. Tay (2002) recognized in
his research applied to students of 4th and 5th classes that students used less monitoring strategies. In same way
Kafadar (2013b), identified that students of 7th class used less monitoring strategies in social studies. Aydin
264 | PART B. SOCIAL SCIENCES AND HUMANITIES www.ijar.eu
(2011) in his research that he specified learning strategies used by secondary school students in geography
lessons concluded planning strategies were less used by students.
According to the research while usage of attention, restoration and affective strategies of students of 5th,
6th and 7th classes are on every time level, again usage of coding and monitoring strategies are on sometimes
level. Whereas only 5th class students are on mid-range level in storage in short term memory strategies,
students of 6th and 7th classes are on every time level
Generally coding strategies serves an important aim as making connection between information already
storaged to long term memory and new information that we decide how important remembering is (Cornford,
2002). This demonstrated difficulty in use of coding strategies. Monitoring strategies include directing learnings. It
is need to be known learning strategies to direct learnings. However a student should have knowledge of learning
strategy to be able to implement skills of monitoring strategy (Caliskan & Sunbul, 2011). In this respect students
should learn firstly attention, storage in short term memory, coding, restoration and affective strategies from
learning strategies, than monitoring strategies. And this explains the situation of Students’ using monitoring
strategies at the very least level
Another finding of research is the arithmetic averages of all learning strategies in ascending rank, 5th, 6th
and 7th form. Learning strategies were classified by taking account of development process of person by Mayer
(1987). According to this classification students of 7th class at the last period and in this period learning strategies
are already gained, it can be used accordingly without the need for adult teaching. Also children on this level can
arrange their strategies according to their own learning objectives. Upon this level strategy it contains years of
secondary school and high school. Students of 5th class are on transition period. In this period learning strategies
are already gained; but they could not be used automatically to increase learning. In this period students can use
learning strategies by means of external learning by adults. This level contains primary school years.
Consequently it could be explained it is used on higher level in the whole of learning strategies of 7th class
students than students of 5th and 6th classes
According to research while students of 5th, 6th and 7th classes have converge learning style at most this
learning style is followed by, assimilation and alteration learning styles.
Students’ were having mostly converge learning style could show that they have characteristic of problem
solving, logical analysis of ideas, planning of learning’s and decision making. To having alteration learning style at
the least level means that they could not look over concrete situations in many aspects, also they are not
objective, patient and careful. Arslan and Babadogan (2005) determined that 50.9% of students of 7th and 8th
classes had converge, 21.9% of them had assimilation, 15.8% of them had alteration and 11.4% of them had
accommodator learning styles. Evin Gencel and Saracaloglu (2009) concluded that 33.3% of 7th class students
had assimilation, 26.8% of them had accommodator, 20.8% of them converge and 19.2% of them had alteration
In social studies it was recognized that learning strategies of 5th, 6th and 7th classes became significantly
different according to learning styles they have. Students who have converge learning strategies from all learning
strategies use strategy on significant level than students who have assimilation learning styles. On the other hand
it was recognized that students who have converge learning styles in usage of storage in short term memory,
monitoring and affective strategies use these strategies in significant level than those who have alteration styles.
Again it was concluded that students who have converge learning style in usage of storage in short term memory
and coding strategies use these strategies on significant level than those who have accommodator learning
styles. According to Liu & Reed (1994) learning styles have important effect on learning ways of students. In other
words learning styles are essential factor that effect usage learning strategies (Li & Qin, 2006’den cited in Pei-Shi,
2012: 231). In this respect it can be said research’s result is supported. Henceforth when literature is analyzed,
usage of learning strategies is changing depending on learning styles. For instance Yilmaz (2011) in his research
conducted with students of 6th, 7th and 8th classes determined that those who had converge learning style use
attention, storage in short time memory and coding strategies more than those who had assimilation learning
style. Guven (2004) in his research conducted with high school students identified that used learning strategies
changed up to used learning strategies and he determined that this was in usage of monitoring and affective
strategies. But in this study it was recognized that students who have alteration style use monitoring strategies
more than those who have accommodator and converge learning styles. On the other hand it was concluded that
students who have alteration and assimilation learning styles use affective strategies more than those who have
accommodator and converge learning styles. Karakis (2006) recognized in the study conducted with university
students that affective strategies changed according to learning styles. According to this study students who have
assimilation learning styles use affective strategies more than those who have alteration learning styles. Once
again in study that Pei-Shi (2012) implemented with university students significant difference between learning
styles and learning strategies was detected. In addition to this again in study that Pei-Shi (2012) implemented with
university students it was found out that cognitive styles had important effect on students’ choice in learning
strategies. In study that searched sex and learning styles’ effects on word learning strategies Zokae, Zaferanieh &
Naseri (2012) stated that sex, and age and learning strategies had effect on students’ choice of learning. In
another study Ehram & Oxford (1990) applied intense education program to a group of adults who had university
degree at least and in consequence of research he found relation between word learning styles of adults and
used strategies. When all these studies are assessed generally results of research are supported.
Baku, Azerbaijan | 265
In this study learning strategies of students of 5th, 6th and 7th classes in social studies and learning styles
that they had were described and learning styles’ effects on learning strategies were analyzed. In other studies
that whether used learning strategies are changing according to their having learning strategies or not can be
tested by describing different or similar level students’ learning strategies and styles used in different lessons.
In this study relation of students’ situation of using learning strategies with learning styles is analyzed. In
other studies using the status of students' learning strategies, approaching to learning, intelligence areas, such as
critical thinking, closely related to demographic trends and the relationship between areas could be analyzed
In a consequence of research it was concluded that students were using affective strategies at most, they
used coding and monitoring strategies at the very least. Reasons of using or not using of these strategies status
of students can be searched qualitatively.
As a result of research it was concluded that students were using coding and monitoring strategies at the
very least. Teachers can give more importance to actives that teach coding and monitoring strategies in social
studies. As consequence of research social studies program can be arranged by taking into account students’
learning strategies related with their learning styles, knowing students’ learning styles.
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