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LETTER TO EDITOR
Year : 2015  |  Volume : 6  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 103-104

A survey of hematology experiment learning preferences of medical students of first and second semesters in a peripheral medical college in India


1 Department of Physiology, Peoples Education Society (PES) Institute of Medical Sciences and Research, Kuppam, Andhra Pradesh, India
2 Department of Physiology, Basaveshwara Medical College, Chitradurga, Karnataka, India
3 Department of Anesthesiology, Basaveshwara Medical College, Chitradurga, Karnataka, India

Date of Web Publication8-Dec-2014

Correspondence Address:
Amrith Pakkala
No.40, SM Road, T. Dasarahalli, Bangalore - 560 057
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0975-9727.146481

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How to cite this article:
Pakkala A, Ganashree CP, Raghavendra T. A survey of hematology experiment learning preferences of medical students of first and second semesters in a peripheral medical college in India. Muller J Med Sci Res 2015;6:103-4

How to cite this URL:
Pakkala A, Ganashree CP, Raghavendra T. A survey of hematology experiment learning preferences of medical students of first and second semesters in a peripheral medical college in India. Muller J Med Sci Res [serial online] 2015 [cited 2019 Oct 16];6:103-4. Available from: http://www.mjmsr.net/text.asp?2015/6/1/103/146481

Dear Editor,

Workers in the field of education have generally opined that every individual has a specific innate learning style and learning is more effective if instruction is delivered by this method. [1] This assumption has a physiologic basis depending upon the sensory modality students prefer to use while assimilating information. Teaching methodologies in medical colleges has to be in line with learning preferences of the present generation of medical students. The VARK - visual, auditory, read/write, and kinaesthetic - questionnaire is widely accepted for assessing instructional preferences and is therefore a valuable tool in assessment of student learning preferences. [2] VARK version 7.1 is the latest in this series capable of assessing four modalities of the above-mentioned learning preference parameters. It has been demonstrated by earlier workers that visual preference in the context of learning preferences includes use of diagrams and pictures, graphs, and flow charts. Auditory preferences include hearing discussions, lectures, and tutorials. Read/write preferences include reading printed material. Simulation of real-life experiences, field trips, demonstrations, workshops, and hands-on experiences are preferred by kinaesthetic learners.

Unimodal learners in this study are that group of students who prefer a single method of information presentation, whereas multimodal learners prefer more than one method. VARK inventory method has been widely used in various countries to assess learning method preferences. Learning styles of students in medical colleges are bound to change over a period of time. Students from a diverse background gain admission in a peripheral medical college in India. It would be interesting to know and compare their learning method preferences at the time of joining the medical college in the first semester with those in the second semester after a short duration of exposure to medical teaching.

This study is designed to evaluate and compare instructional learning style preferences of first and second semester medical students with reference to hematology experiments using version 7.1 of VARK questionnaire.

This study was conducted on medical students studying at PES Institute of Medicine, Kuppam. Ethical clearance was obtained from the institutional ethics committee. Students of the first semester (N = 100) participated in the study. Voluntary informed consent was obtained for the study. VARK version 7.1 questionnaire was administered. The questionnaire consists of 16 multiple choice questions and it measures four perceptual learning preferences (visual, auditory, reading/writing, and kinaesthetic). Kinaesthetic mode of learning involves learning with locomotor skill development. In the context of this present study, it involves activities like tutor-assisted maneuver learning, for example, handling the microscope, charging of the counting chambers, etc. Each question carried four options. Participants were permitted to choose one or more than one options, as found suitable. One hundred respondents completed the questionnaires. Questionnaires were evaluated on the basis of previously validated scoring instructions available on the VARK site. [2]

This method was repeated to assess the responses of the same set of students when they were in second semester.

Statistical analysis was done to calculate the percentage of students with unimodal and multimodal preference in both sets, the percentage of students in each category of learning style preference in the two semesters, and dominant learning preference in each study group using chi-square test.

VARK inventory results for the first and second semester medical students are shown in [Table 1].
Table 1: Comparison of unimodal and multimodal instructional methods

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The data show that 80% of the first semester students had unimodal learning preferences out of which 10%, 50%, 5%, and 15% students preferred visual, auditory, read/write, and kinaesthetic modes, respectively. In comparison, significantly higher percentage (50%) of second semester students had multimodal learning preferences. Their unimodal learning preference was 5% visual, 5% auditory, 5% read/write, and 15% kinaesthetic modes.

First semester students' auditory instructional style was the most preferred method, whereas the second semester students preferred the kinaesthetic mode. The number of second semester students preferring the auditory method was significantly lower than the first semester students.

Students in the second semester had a broader outlook in their learning preferences as encompassed in their choice for multimodal learning methods.

This study was designed to evaluate and determine the learning preference of first semester students of medicine and that in the second semester. Hematology experimental lab teaching was used as a reference. Learning preferences of students help teachers to practise effective teaching methods. The present study revealed that the most preferred unimodal learning style in the first semester students was auditory. These findings are similar to those of other Indian workers like Jindal et al. [3] and Shah et al. [4] This is in contrast to the findings of similar studies conducted in the West where read/write method was found to be preferred by fresh students. Malaysian students had preferred kinaesthetic method in one of the studies. [5] The difference in preferences in this group of fresh medical students is most likely due to their earlier training methods before entry into the medical college. A similar view is opined by workers in this field. [6] Gender influence on learning style methods was not studied here as there is a lot of difference of opinion on this. [4]

The present study revealed that learning style preferences were significantly different in the second semester as compared to the first semester. The learners preferred unimodal methods in the first semester as compared to the second semester where a majority preferred multiple combinations of instructional methods. Lack of adequate teaching infrastructure and trained manpower in developing countries results in unimodal auditory methods being used predominantly at the school level. Training in a medical college encompasses multiple modes of teaching methodologies including tutorials and practical training. Hence, there is more of a multimodal exposure in the medical college.

It is important to know the learning preferences of the present generation of medical students in order to understand the felt need of students. Preferences in instructional methods vary with the passage of time in the medical college. With the passage of time in the medical course, students adapt to a multimodal method of instruction. It is, therefore, in the interest of students to strengthen, encourage, and adopt a multimodal approach to lab teaching rather than resorting to conservative unimodal approach.

Limitations of this Study

Teaching in an experimental lab should always be multimodal to be effective. In contrast, didactic lectures tend to be predominantly unimodal. Hence, findings based on this study may not be entirely extrapolated to other modes of teaching.

 
  References Top

1.
Keefe JW. Learning Style: Theory and Practice. Virginia: National Association of Secondary School Principals; 1987. p. 75.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Fleming ND. VARK: A Guide to Learning Styles. 2007. Available from: http://www.varklearn.com/english/page.asp?p_questionnaire. [Last accessed on 2013 Dec 25].  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Jindal M, Kharb P, Samanta PP. Comparative analysis of instructional learning preferences of medical students of first and seventh semester. Int J Physiol 2013;1:32-6.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Shah C, Joshi N, Mehta HB, Gokhale PA. Learning styles adopted by medical students. Int Res J Pharm 2011;2:227-9.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Kumar LR, Voralu K, Pani SP, Sethuraman KR. Predominant learning styles adopted by AIMST University students in Malaysia. Southeast Asian J Med Educ 2009;3:37-46.  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
Nuzhat A, Salem RO, Mohammad SA, Nasir AH. Learning style preferences of medical students: A single-institute experience from Saudi Arabia. Int J Med Educ 2011;2:70-3.  Back to cited text no. 6
    



 
 
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