Purpose – This paper aims to review the literature on the utility of employing the construct of cognitive style in understanding behaviour in web‐based learning environments. Design/methodology/approach – The paper initially examines whether the web architecture may be matched to an individual's cognitive style in order to facilitate learning, before progressing to assess whether different architectures influence a web users' internal representations of web‐based learning systems, as measured by concept map drawings. Other issues explored are users' web navigation and users' sense of learning community when receiving instruction via web‐based learning environments. Findings – The studies reviewed indicate that cognitive style is a pertinent factor for consideration when assessing the success with which users engage with web‐based learning systems. Research limitations/implications – Some of the studies reviewed here are small‐scale and caution is urged in generalising the findings. Practical implications – In terms of the practical implications, however, it is suggested that web‐based systems should be designed with consideration to individual differences in user characteristics, as this is related to the success with which users learn, navigate and interact socially in an online environment. However, it is concluded that more research is required in order to produce general rules relating cognitive style to the use of web‐based learning systems. Originality/value – The findings from the numerous studies on the implications of considering the function of individual differences in using web‐based learning are notable and useful in the context of web‐based instruction.
Education + Training – Emerald Publishing
Published: Feb 1, 2006
Keywords: Learning styles; Cognitive mapping; Data handling; Worldwide web; Architecture; Navigation