Date of Degree
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Sandra Guzman Foster
The Latino population is projected to double by 2060 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2017), while current bachelor degree attainment for Hispanics continues to hover around a stubborn low 12% (NCES, 2017). Additionally, research on Generation Z Latino learning preferences is sparse. At the same time, studies have shown that knowing about learning styles and culture can have positive impacts on learners’ academic performance and teachers’ classroom management ability (Nieto, 2004; Reese, Jensen, & Ramirez, 2014). Therefore, studying learning styles and culture can help prepare educators better to fulfill this generation’s needs by enabling them to integrate cultural accommodations into their teaching. The purpose of this mixed-methods study was to study the learning styles of two cohorts of Generation Z Latino students, one at a south Texas university and one at a Bolivian university, and explore the role of cultural factors on their learning styles.
This mixed methodology study combined Hofstede, Hofstede, and Minkov’s Values Survey Module and Felder and Silverman’s Learning Styles Inventory, in addition to demographic questions. The two cohorts studied were comprised of Latino university students who were majoring in business or related majors and were born on 1996 or later. Survey data from the 264 participants who completed the survey were analyzed in SPSS using descriptive analytics, t-tests, and a two by two factorial ANOVA test. Additionally, 25 interviews were conducted with Latina female students. Similar to the survey participants, interview participants were also majoring in business or related majors and were born on 1996 or later. The 1.5-hour interview was conducted individually and included an arts-based activity. The recorded interviews were then transcribed. The study used grounded theory to analyze the qualitative data.
Regarding cultural dimensions, the south Texas and the Bolivian cohorts ranked on the low range in masculinity, low range in long-term orientation, and low range in individualism. Both groups ranked mid-range in indulgence versus restraint. However, the Bolivian cohort ranked extremely low in power distance. The U.S. cohort ranked mid-range on the power distance dimension. Furthermore, analysis of the data revealed both groups preferred the visual, sensing, sequential, and global learning styles. Additionally, t-tests revealed there was a significant difference in the sequential-global scales at the south Texas university (M = 12.74, SD = 3.810) and the Bolivian university (M = 14.38, SD = 3.994); t(263) = 2.77, p = .0006. An interaction between culture and gender was found to be significant, F(1,261) = 7.377, p = .007 on the sensing-intuitive dimension.
The qualitative analysis revealed family cohesiveness nature as a way to interact with the world, food and celebration as a way to strengthen community, and values as foundational cultural themes. Regarding generational factors, the following matter to Generation Z participants: price, quality, comfort, looks, and friendliness. Generation Z’s relationship with technology was found to be intimate. However, participants recognized the excessive use of mobile devices principally could be problematic since it could interfere with maintaining relationships with others. Participants’ beliefs about learning were categorized on the following categories: beliefs about their life journey, beliefs about self, beliefs about individuals in the classroom, and beliefs about learning preferences.
Learning beliefs were found to link back to cultural and generational themes and reflected the cultural dimension and learning styles scores. The theory generated proposed that culture and generation served to form the basis of a foundational paradigm. Family, nature, food, and values generated a certain set of core beliefs that the participants held. The participants’ beliefs about learning could all be connected back their core beliefs. Learners’ learning beliefs were critical because they constituted a set of expectations, motivations, and ultimately behaviors. As a result of understanding learners’ preferences and beliefs, recruiters, instructional designers, educators, and researchers could make potential modifications and cultural accommodations for Latino learners. One of the limitations of this study was the sample size. Additionally, the study was limited to two universities and one field of study. Also, participants were successful students and were from the first wave of Generation Z students. Future research may expand on this topic by focusing on specific sets of beliefs, focusing on male Generation Z students, and conducting similar studies in other Latino countries.
Guzman Palacios, Angela, "Learning Styles of Generation Z Latinos: A Mixed-Methods Exploratory Study of Two Cohorts of Business University Students" (2019). Theses & Dissertations. 355.