Canfield Learning Style Inventory

The Canfield-Lafferty Learning Style Inventory (CLSI) draws on the work of Joseph Hill and focuses on the additional and affective dimensions rather than cognitive ones. The CLSI reportedly assesses ,earning preferences defined by a model for describing learning styles focusing on motivational and environmental factors present in formal instructional situations. A.A. Canfield and Judith S. Canfield also developed the Instructional Styles Inventory (ISI) which closely parallels the CLSI.

The CLSI consists of 30 items which measure 4 categories: conditions, modes, content, and expectancy. Participants rank their responses on a scale of 1 to 4 (with 1 being the most descriptive) according to how well each describes their personal reaction or feeling. Individual learning style is "...derived from academic conditions (relations with instructors and peers); structural conditions (organizational detail); achievement conditions (goal setting, competition); content (number words, etc.); mode of preferred learning (Listening, reading, ionic, direct experience); and expectation of performance level" (Vance, 1991).

Vance also notes that the major use of the CLSI is to develop instructional materials for whole classes or individual students. Vance considers the CLSI a tool to aid in understanding students' difficulties in completing academic units and for counseling.

Some scales, have a high reliablity while others have fairly low reliability. No test-retest reliability is reported. Split-half coefficient data is limited but suggests that the coefficients listed all range in the very high .90's. Alpha coefficients range from.54 to .82. in short, the reliability data for the CLSI is extremely limited (Sewall, 1988).

No explanation has been offered for the history behind the instrument. The studies that might contribute to construct validity are of limited use. Where assumptions can be made about the theory, research evidence is marginaly supported at best. The forced-choice format, ipsative approach that shows relative preference for an individual, is inappropriately combined with normative profiling; and profile norms are based on an extremely limited range of subjects. Emphasis on the academic setting and on Expectancy scores are particularly problematic for adult educators. The amount of attention given to the issue of whether the learner will succeed or fail may be threatening to some adult learners, and seems innapropriate in contexts that deemphasize measuring learning by the instructor's criteria (Bonham, 1987).

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    Peter L. Heineman
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