With the emerging and spreading of new technologies and gadgets, it seems that a lot of activities that before have been done in groups, now are performed individually. Due to the simplicity of abstraction from the outside world, more students seem to prefer to study alone (Hinze & Wiley, 2011). There are many reasons for that including the need for concentration, deeper analysis, and thinking, or restoration of inner selves.
The information collected during the study might be useful for the creators of public spaces since relying on such data, they can construct more individual spaces or rooms for groups.
Do individuals prefer to study alone or in a study group? And if yes, are study groups mostly female or male based?
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It is presumed that the majority of individuals taking part in the experiment will opt out to study alone.
To test the hypothesis, the observation study was decided to be employed in the course of the experiment. Observation provides for the monotonous monitoring of the issue or a person with certain purposes. The ideas and important facts regarding the object of observation are usually noted and then analyzed. In observation, it is important to remain unnoticed by those who are under the survey. A researcher has to ensure that ethical and legal rules are followed.
The place that has been chosen for experimenting was the city library. There were three of them: one of the libraries belonged to the University while two others were located in the urban area far from the city center. Such a choice was made on purpose. The audience of both libraries is different. The library belonging to the University is usually full of students who are thirsty for knowledge. Due to its openness, it could also be accessed by city residents, who, in its turn, might be useful for the study as the audience of participants is then diversified by outside people who could not be anticipated at the beginning of the study. The urban area is filled with different kinds of residents as well. Two libraries that have been chosen for the experiment are located in the safe districts of the city. Its key visitors involve children, students living there, and the middle class.
The observation was conducted in the afternoon since the researchers presumed that in the morning, students and children are at schools and colleges or universities. Therefore, if conduct earlier, the study could not collect the information that was needed. The observation took part from 1:00 till 5:00 p.m.
Ethical and Legal Considerations
The place chosen for the observation was the library, which could be accessed by everyone. It is a public area that is used mainly for scientific and studying purposes. The data that has been collected during the experiment was used for research purposes only. No violation of human rights was reported. The participants of the observation were not disturbed or bothered by the researcher. More than that, the library’s administration was aware of the experiment and agreed to cooperate in its conducting as they were also interested in the result of the experiment.
The study aimed to observe the behaviors of 300 people, 100 per library. The number was limited mainly due to the limited resources of the researcher. Nevertheless, it was presumed that the observation would still provide certain relevant data regarding the preferences in learning styles.
The observation was carried during three days: Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday. The observation did not include the weekends as during these days, people usually prefer to go to the seaside or to organize their free time in a way other than sitting in the library.
To ensure the anonymous character of the observation, I brought the books and computer with me to imitate the studying process. During the experiment, I also tried to talk with some of the participants to ensure a better understanding of the topic and to verify my presumptions.
As it turned out, the majority of students and visitors to the library preferred to work and study alone. 231 visitors out of 300 came and were left alone. The rest or nearly 69 worked in groups for some time or tried to keep in touch with their friends over Skype and Facebook chats. Speaking about the genders, 23 boys preferred to study in groups. Following, 46 were working together with their peers. The time spent by each participant at the library was different and hard to follow.
Discussion of Results
The results obtained after the study showed that in present-day conditions, people prefer more to study alone than in groups. As the research showed, 261 participants out of 300 chose to work alone. There are many reasons for that.
First of all, it should be stressed that the observation study had a lot of mediating variables that affected the final results. One of them is the place that has been chosen for the experiment. A library provides more for silent and concentrated absorption of the information out of books (Ramsay, Sperling, & Dornisch, 2010). There are more places where students can study and where there is no need to stay silent. A cafe, for example, is a beloved place that is frequently chosen for studying purposes (Helsdingen, van Gog, & van Merrienboer, 2011). During the toughest sessions, Starbucks cafe is occupied by students drawn in their books and notes, preparing for final exams. Additionally, students who are willing to combine the meetings with friends and the learning processes might also choose a cafe (Schneider, Healy, & Bourne, 2002).
Another reason refers to the level of concentration that could be getting at the library. The University library was full of various rooms that could be used for different purposes. There were the ones where a person could combine eating and reading; eating, talking, and eating, etc. (Sommer, Schoell, & Buchel, 2008). Also, there were rooms for the groups where they could communicate and interact. These rooms were isolated from others. Additionally, there was a room free from Wi-Fi and similar hot-spot connections. Presumably, the library is perceived by students as the place where they can have a rest from the world, social media, and networks and relax with the book or simply enjoy a long and monotonous concentration (Rittle-Johnson, 2006). In other words, I, as a researcher, have to stress that, perhaps, a choice of a place, in this case, was not the best one.
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People might also opt-out for alone reading or learning due to their cognitive abilities (Hunt & Worthen, 2006; Dunlosky, Rawson, Marsh, Nathan, & Willingham, 2013). Some of them prefer to talk or discuss the information that has just been discovered while others prefer to reflect on them alone and to draft the mind maps for a better understanding. Partly, it explains why the majority of visitors to the library were sitting alone (Taylor, 2013). Learning alone also provides one with flexibility regarding the choice of the subject that is to be learned at the moment. Moreover, it frees a person from all kinds of attention distractions (Fritz, Morris, Acton, Voelkel, & Etkind, 2011).
First of all, it should be stressed that I worked on the project by myself. I have had no coordinators or advisors to report to. In this case, such a situation is admissible since the experiment is conducted within the course. Under normal conditions, there should be at least two observers in each library to ensure the accuracy of the results obtained. Additionally, there should be a person that would check the numbers and figures and make certain that no subjectivity occurs and that the results obtained after the experiment would be valid. Furthermore, to make the results trustworthy, it is recommended to involve more libraries in the studying process to ensure the objectivity and accuracy of the results. In the presented case, only three libraries participated in the experiment. The study did not reflect the features of the participants such as their age, gender, occupation, etc. Moreover, it has been conducted during the week only, so that it provides no data regarding the library attendance on the weekends. The sampling size was not calculated due to the limited resources. In any case, one person could not analyze all libraries in the city. All of these factors, therefore, might shadow the results of the study.
Alone studying also helps a person to improve faster. If the learning concerns the creation of the project and its realization, a person has to deal with a range of issues from different branches of knowledge. In such a way, a student can train all the skills and abilities at the same time. This method requires a lot of effort to be done. Yet, it is the most rewarding one.
Areas for Possible Improvement
In my opinion, the team of researchers should be enlarged to ensure the quality of observation and the accuracy of the final results. Additionally, it is important to calculate the sample size that would let one presume that the results obtained are representative regarding the research question. Thirdly, the amplitude of the research should be also increased to minimize the effects or features of the particular place on the results of the study. Additionally, it is important to introduce the controlling procedures for the study that would guarantee that observers collect the information by the guidelines. Better recruitment procedures should also be employed to involve people who would be aware of the legal and ethical considerations and who would not compromise the results of the study.
The presented study aimed to analyze the preferences of people regarding learning styles. The majority of people have been reported for preferring studying alone over a study group, involving two or more people. As to the gender correlation, women, more than men, prefer to learn in groups. Additionally, the place affected the results of the study since the library has certain rules of behavior that are not always followed if the group of young people is in the process of learning.
Other reasons for studying alone include the increased level of focus and concentration, minimized distortion, and individual learning styles. The analysis of possible limitations of the study has outlined possible factors that could impact the results obtained. Among them is the scope of the research, the number of people involved, the place and time of the research, etc. In any case, the results of the observation, if improved, could be used by the architectures when they plan public spaces.