In the early 1970’s, Dr. Russell French of the University of Tennessee in Knoxville formulated a framework of perceptual learning styles. Daryl Gilley, a graduate student of Dr. French, tested students from a classroom within this framework. Another graduate student of Dr. French, Edwin Cherry, revised the framework and then tested others within this refined perceptual learning styles paradigm. The result of this early work in perceptual learning styles was the creation and development of the Multi-Modal Paired Associates Learning Test (MMPALT.)
Leonard Schaiper, added yet another study to the body of research on MMPALT, and the instrument and procedures were further refined through research studies conducted at the University of Tennessee, Oklahoma State University, and the University of South Florida over a period of 20 years. In July 1995, a number of researchers and a couple of graduate students met to discuss the MMPALT and the perceptual learning styles framework. This group was represented by a number of researchers who had worked with the MMPALT and who had graduate students who had completed research using the MMPALT. By 1995, about 20 graduate students had completed dissertations on the MMPALT and the MMPALT II (a revised version) and Dr. Waynne James of the University of South Florida in Tampa had published several articles about the MMPALT.
The group formulated a number of goals including standardizing the MMPALT instrument to ensure consistent administration of the test. The group expanded to include others interested in the concept of perceptual learning styles and the MMPALT. Meetings were held twice a year, alternating between Tampa and Knoxville. In 1996 the group formalized the organization, and the genesis was the Institute of Learning Styles Research (ILSR.)
The ILSR has standardized the MMPALT III, packaged the instrument, created a web presence, developed a conference format for the bi-annual meetings, continued research efforts, and created more publishing and dissemination goals. The goal to discover one’s own perceptual strengths and preferences has implications for numerous types of learners. The applications for the MMPALT III extend from the field of education among teachers and students to the domain of business amid trainers and participants and to the realm of individuals interested in their own formal and informal lifelong learning.
- Steve Roggenbaum