Learning styles of medical students at Taibah University: Trends and implications

Shaista Salman Guraya, Salman Yousuf Guraya, Fawzia A. Habib, Khalid I. Khoshhal


Background: Understanding the learning styles of medical students can drive the institutions to adapt instructional materials to enhance students’ learning of knowledge and skills. This study explored the learning styles of undergraduate medical students, comparing gender variations in terms of their significant preferences. Materials and Methods: A cross-sectional observational study was performed in 2012-2013, incorporating 1st-5th year undergraduate medical students of Taibah University. The instrument used was a Learning Style Questionnaire, with four learning styles (activist, reflector, theorist and pragmatist) and 40 items. Results: Of 450 students, 384 responded (response rate; 85%). No single learning style predominated; 96 (25%) reflectors, 78 (20%) theorists, 68 (17%) pragmatists, and 37 (9%) activists. Combined reflector and theorist was the predominant dual learning style in 27 (7%) students. Among genders, theorist style had a significant result (P = 0.071) indicating that theorists varied among genders due to their different opinions. Learning style preferences of theorists and pragmatists also showed a significant result (P = 0.000 each), depicting that both genders had unique preferences. Males had fewer variations of preferences, when compared with females who showed a significant difference of opinions (P < 0.05). Conclusion: The students in the study preferred diverse learning styles, which were unevenly distributed, reflectors being the most common and activists as the least common. The results reflect the need to promote self-directed learning and modifications of instructional strategies, with expectant tilt in the students’ learning styles towards activists and pragmatists.

Key words: Learning styles, learning preferences, learning styles questionnaire, medical students, undergraduate medical Curriculum

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