Learning style preferences among students of medical and dental colleges

Ambreen Khalid Khan, Khalid Rahim Khan, Zahid Bashir, Asif Hanif


Background: Psychologists and researchers have discovered variations in learning styles of students across institutes, cultures and educational environments. Awareness of the predominant learning style will enable the facilitators to modify teaching methods and make the educational experience more effective.

Aim: This study determines the VARK inventory based learning styles of students at a private medical college in Pakistan and relates them with the teaching methods preferred by the students.

Methods: A cross sectional study was conducted on 194 first and second year MBBS students, enrolled at Shalamar Medical and Dental College, Lahore. The VARK questionnaire, version 7.1 was used to categorize the learning preferences/modes as visual (V), auditory (A), read and write (R) and kinaesthetic (K). Data was also collected about the students’ gender and their preferred teaching methods.

Results:  Only 36% of students preferred one learning style (uni-modal), primarily kinaesthetic, while the rest of students preferred more than one learning style (multi-modal), where 44% bi-modal, 15 tri-modal and only 5% quadri-modal. The most preferred teaching methodology was practical/dissection (38%) and the least preferred was tutorial (8%). Strong correlation was found between kinaesthetic learners and those who preferred practical as teaching method.

Conclusion: Multiple modes of instruction will cater for needs of the majority of the students. The educators’ awareness about the learning styles of the students and their efforts towards matching the learning styles with modes of instruction may ensure an effective learning environment for the learners.

KeywordsLearning style, Instructional method, Teaching-learning strategies, Medical students

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