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Med Teach. 2008;30(9-10):863-9. doi: 10.1080/01421590802141167.

The potential of the inventory of learning styles to study students' learning patterns in three types of medical curricula.

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Centre for Educational Development, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Ghent University, Belgium.



Introducing innovative curricular designs can be evaluating by scrutinizing the learning patterns students use.


Studying the potential of Vermunt's Inventory of Learning Styles (ILS) in detecting differences in student learning patterns in different medical curricula.


Cross-sectional between-subjects comparison of ILS-scores in third-year medical students in a conventional, an integrated contextual and a PBL-curriculum using one-way post hoc ANOVA.


Response rate was 85%: 197 conventional, 130 integrated contextual and 301 PBL students. The results show a differential impact from the three curricula. In relation to processing strategies, the students in the problem-based curriculum showed less rote learning and rehearsing, greater variety in sources of knowledge used and less ability to express study content in a personal manner than did the students in the conventional curriculum. The students of the integrated contextual curriculum showed more structuring of subject matter by integrating different aspects into a whole. In relation to regulation strategies, the students in the problem-based curriculum showed significantly more self-regulation of learning content and the students in the integrated contextual curriculum showed lower levels of regulation. As to learning orientations, the students in the problem-based curriculum showed less ambivalence and the students of the conventional curriculum were less vocationally oriented.


The study provides empirical support for expected effects of traditional and innovative curricula which thus far were not well supported by empirical studies.

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