Higher Education

, Volume 27, Issue 4, pp 487–501 | Cite as

Gender differences in learning styles: A narrative review and quantitative meta-analysis

  • Sabine E. Severiens
  • Geert T. M. Ten Dam


This article reviews research on gender and learning styles of students, 18 and older, conducted after 1980. Curry's onion model (1983) is used to classify definitions of learning styles and to reconstruct the theoretical frameworks used. The extent to which learning style is considered stable or variable in different learning contexts determines its position in the model. Most studies used theoretical frameworks that belonged in the middle or outer layers of the model. This location indicates the strong influence of learning context on women's and men's learning styles. While there were differences between learning styles, research designs rarely included learning contexts.

In addition to the narrative review, we performed a quantitative meta-analysis on two instruments (Kolb's Learning Style Inventory and Entwistle's Approaches to Studying Inventory) to determine the direction and magnitude of gender differences in various samples. A search for these two instruments resulted in 26 studies for which the necessary statistics were available. On Kolb's instrument, the results showed that men were more likely than women to prefer the abstract conceptualisation mode of learning. On Entwistle's ASI a difference was found on the affective components of approaches to studying.


Gender Difference Research Design Strong Influence Outer Layer Conceptualisation Mode 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sabine E. Severiens
    • 1
  • Geert T. M. Ten Dam
    • 1
  1. 1.Graduate School of Teaching and LearningUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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