Learning Style Preference: Impact on Academic Performance of Preclinical Medical Students, a Nigerian Survey
Background: Understanding the differences in learning styles among medical students and their impact on the learning processes may enhance better learning and knowledge acquisition that is necessary for improving learning outcomes. This study aimed at the determination of the learning style preferences of the University of Nigeria preclinical medical students and the impact they have on their academic performance.
Materials and Methods: The study involved 158 third-year medical students (102 males and 56 females). Each student completed the VARK questionnaire (Version 7) comprising 16 questions that identified four different learning style preferences, namely V – visual, A – aural, R – read–write, and K – kinesthetic. The academic performance of the students was obtained from the results of their second MBBS professional examination. Analysis of data was done using Statistical Package for the Social sciences (SPSS) version 21; the percentages and charts of distribution for each VARK component were determined. The presence/absence of significant interactions between academic performance and learning style preferences was determined using Chi-square test.
Results: The results showed that 30.4% of the students were unimodal (V-2.5%, A-7%, R-17.1% and K-3.8%), while 69.6% were multimodal in learning. With respect to gender, the males (70.6%) and females (67.9%) preferred multimodal learning, and both genders showed similar patterns in their preferences (read–write, followed by aural, kinesthetic, and visual). Visual learners exhibited the highest scores among unimodal learners, followed by kinesthetic, aural, and read–write learners, although the mean performance of multimodal learners (65%) was higher than those of unimodal learners (54%) (P < 0.001).
Conclusion: A blend of V‑A‑R‑K instructional techniques would benefit most students. Students who are strongly unimodal in learning need to be specifically targeted with their unique learning style.
Keywords: Anatomy, Nigeria, learning style. academic performance, preclinical students, V-A-R-K