INDEX OF LEARNING STYLES (ILS)

The Index of Learning Styles is an on-line instrument used to assess preferences on four dimensions (active/reflective, sensing/intuitive, visual/verbal, and sequential/global) of a learning style model formulated by Richard M. Felder and Linda K. Silverman. The instrument was developed by Richard M. Felder and Barbara A. Soloman of North Carolina State University.

The ILS may be used at no cost for non-commercial purposes by individuals who wish to determine their own learning style profile and by educators who wish to use it for teaching, advising, or research. Consultants and companies who wish to use the ILS in their work may license it. (Click below on "Frequently Asked Questions" for details.)

ILS users should be aware of two important points:

  1. The ILS results provide an indication of an individual's learning preferences and an even better indication of the preference profile of a group of students (e.g. a class), but they should not be over-interpreted. If someone does not agree with the ILS assessment of his or her preferences, trust that individual's judgment over the instrument results.

  2. A student's learning style profile provides an indication of possible strengths and possible tendencies or habits that might lead to difficulty in academic settings. The profile does not reflect a student's suitability or unsuitability for a particular subject, discipline, or profession. Labeling students in this way is at best misleading, and can be destructive if the student uses the label as justification for a major shift in curriculum or career goals. (A learning style preference also does not serve as an excuse for a bad grade on the student's last physics test.)

The following items are available for viewing and downloading.

Frequently asked questions. Responses to frequently asked questions about the ILS, including questions about its origin, reliability and validity, availability for use in teaching and research, and how businesses may license it.

ILS questionnaire. A 44-item questionnaire that can be submitted and automatically scored on the Web.

Descriptions of the learning styles. A four-page handout that briefly explains the instrument results.

Descriptions and validation studies of the ILS.
        (1) "Applications, Reliability, and Validity of the Index of Learning Styles," by R. Felder and J. Spurlin.
        (2) "A Contribution to Validation of Score Meaning for Felder-Soloman's Index of Learning Styles," by M. Zywno.
        (3) "A Psychometric Study of the Index of Learning Styles," by T. Litzinger, S. Lee, J. Wise, and R. Felder.
Adobe Acrobat Reader is needed to access these files. It can be downloaded free from www.adobe.com.

Peer review of the Index of Learning Styles in MERLOT (Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching).

"Learning and Teaching Styles in Engineering Education," Engr. Education, 78(7), 674-681 (1988). The article that originally defined the Felder-Silverman model and identified teaching practices that should meet the needs of students with the full spectrum of styles. The paper is preceded by a 2002 preface that states and explains changes in the model that have been made since 1988.

"Understanding Student Differences." J. Engr. Education, 94(1), 57-72 (2005). An exploration of differences in student learning styles, approaches to learning (deep, surface, and strategic), and levels of intellectual development, with recommended teaching practices to address all three categories.

"Are Learning Styles Invalid? (Hint: No!)." On-Course Newsletter, September 27, 2010. A response to claims that no evidence justifies taking learning styles into account when designing instruction.

Additional information and references on learning styles.

Richard Felder's home page. Links to Dr. Felder's education-related papers, columns in Chemical Engineering Education, handouts for students, and information about workshops.