Thinking styles: implications for optimising learning and teaching in university education

  • CD Cilliers University of Stellenbosch
  • RJ Sternberg Yale University (USA)


Thirteen thinking styles of 223 first year students in the Arts (44%), Natural Sciences (44%) and Education (12%) faculties at Stellenbosch University were measured by means of the Sternberg Mental Self-government Thinking Styles Inventory. Responses were entered on a seven-point Lickert scale. Faculty, gender and language group and their combinations served as categorical variables. The range of the mean rating scores for the thinking styles positioned this group within the scales "somewhat well" and "well". The preferred thinking styles of this group are executive, legislative, hierarchic, internal and conservative styles. Significant differences were found for 16% of the comparisons. Faculty and language are differentiating factors in the preferences for thinking styles while gender is not. However, gender is a differentiating factor within faculties and the Afrikaans-speaking group. Possible implications of these styles for optimising learning and teaching at this university are highlighted.

South African Journal of Higher Education Vol.15(1) 2001: 13-24

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eISSN: 1011-3487