One on One with Dr. José María Cela

LML conducted an interview with Dr. José María Cela, Professor of Pedagogy at the Universidad Rovira I Virgili in Tarragona, Spain. Dr. Cela visited the University of South Florida to conduct some research on the Let Me Learn Learning Connections Inventory.

LML: What was the nature of your research using the LCI?

CELA: I worked with first-year students at the university. I did an analysis of the personal characteristics of these students. More specifically, I studied their personality traits and learning patterns. I used the LCI to measure this second variable.

LML: What did you compare the LCI to and what did you learn?

CELA: Well, I compared the aforementioned variables with the academic achievement of the students at two points: university entrance exam results and grade scores after the first semester. With regard to the LCI, I was able to observe the relationship of the learning patterns to the personality traits along with their academic achievement. For example, the sequential pattern associates well with stamina and perseverance, etc. and the confluent pattern correlates in a similar fashion to open-mindedness.

What the data revealed is no single learning pattern addresses academic achievement in any significant way; however, it can be observed that students with better grades tend to have lower technical and confluent scores than students with lower scores. An earlier study completed at Clemson University would confirm this. Sadly these findings reflect more on the limitations of general higher education programs and what aspects of learners are more valued. In short, these are issues while related to the students, also give us clues about the effectiveness of our higher education system in general.

LML: What was the purpose of your trip to see LML at the University of South Florida?

CELA: I wanted to see how the Let Me Learn Process® and specifically the LCI instrument was used with student tracking and support services for first-year students at the university. In addition, there were the additional factors to observe of a public institution with a large student body that had recently introduced new services.

LML: What did you learn?

CELA: Among other things, the most salient issues were:

  • I confirmed the potential of having an instrument like the LCI serve as a means to get to know students.
  • The students react favorably to the opportunity to understand themselves as students.
  • The results can be used at different times with different objectives.
  • I think it’s important to underscore the value of using the Let Me Learn Process® and its results as a part of a socializing process among the students; it fosters a culture of belongingness and a common language among them.

Also, I must add that I greatly appreciated Dr. Pat Maher’s letting me observe her program. She is doing excellent work at USF.

LML: What do you intend to do next with this information?

CELA: There could be two action steps:

To design an organizational plan for an institution of higher education aimed at the student and focused on freshman year. This proposal would be based on understanding the student as a person who learns. One of the instruments to use in understanding the student would be the LCI. The resulting information should inform a plan of action at different levels: personal (student/professor), degree- and institution-oriented.

To expand the analysis of the LML patterns in relation to other variables. This would be researched from two perspectives: basic research focusing on its application, and pedagogical research focusing on student learning.

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