Purpose ? Self-directed work teams are seen as an important mechanism for dealing with today's complex and rapidly changing business environment. Team learning is an attempt to prepare students to real-world experiences. But, not all teamwork is effective. This paper aims to examine the influence of learning style preferences on team learning performance. Design/methodology/approach ? The Grasha-Riechmann Student Learning Style Scales GRSLSS is used to assess the learning style preferences of business students enrolled in an operations management class. Findings ? Students were found to be collaborative learners. Students' collaborative orientation complements participation and helps students to compete, which in turn increases team performance. In addition, influence of learning style varies with educational experience, gender and major. Graduate students showed to be collaborative and independent learners. As such, while personal model and formal authority teaching styles fit best undergraduates learning preferences, at the graduate level, instructor role changes to facilitator and delegator. Originality/value ? Provides evidence that learning style preferences are valuable for engaging learners in various collaborative activities and for designing successful diverse teams.