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Adv Physiol Educ. 2006 Mar;30(1):13-6.

First-year medical students prefer multiple learning styles.

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Department of Physiology, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, Michigan 48201, USA.


Students have preferences for the ways in which they receive information. The visual, auditory, reading/writing, kinesthetic (VARK) questionnaire identifies student's preferences for particular modes of information presentation. We administered the VARK questionnaire to our first-year medical students, and 166 of 250 students (66%) returned the completed questionnaire. Only 36.1% of the students preferred a single mode of information presentation. Among these students, 5.4% preferred visual (learning from graphs, charts, and flow diagrams), 4.8% preferred auditory (learning from speech), 7.8% preferred printed words (learning from reading and writing), and 18.1% preferred using all their senses (kinesthetics: learning from touch, hearing, smell, taste, and sight). In contrast, most students (63.8%) preferred multiple modes [2 modes (24.5%), 3 modes (32.1%), or 4 modes (43.4%)] of information presentation. Knowing the students preferred modes can 1) help provide instruction tailored to the student's individual preference, 2) overcome the predisposition to treat all students in a similar way, and 3) motivate teachers to move from their preferred mode(s) to using others.

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