Learning in virtual courses and its relationship to thinking styles

Rafi Nachmias*, Nehama Shany

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study examines students learning in virtual courses and the relationship between their performance and thinking styles. The research focused on two categories of dependent variables: the first consists of students' scholastic performance measured by grades, successful Web searches, completion of assignments, and the use of asynchronous communication channels. The second refers to the students' attitudes toward, and level of satisfaction with, virtual learning. Independent variables included six thinking styles (according to Sternberg's mental self-government theory): global, local, internal, external, liberal, and conservative styles, as well as gender and prior experience in information and communications technology (ICT). Participants were 110 eighth and ninth graders who were enrolled in a three-month virtual course on the retrieval and use of on-line information. The findings show considerable individual differences in student performance and attitudes. Prior experience with ICT was found as the major factor affecting the virtual learning, while gender, in this study, did not. Learners with liberal or internal thinking styles outperformed the other students in the course. The results suggest that though virtual courses provide opportunities for all learners, such opportunities may be greater for some learners than for others. These results are discussed in the context of equity and diversity in the classroom.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)315-329
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Educational Computing Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2002


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