Mitchell, E., James, S. & D'Amore, A. (2015). How learning styles and preferences of first-year nursing and midwifery students change. Australian Journal of Education,59(2), 158-168. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1177/0004944115587917
It is important that educators understand learning styles as an evolving individual characteristic. We investigate the changes in learning styles and preferences of first-year undergraduate nursing/midwifery students after six months of preliminary testing. Curry’s ‘onion ring model’ proposes a stable inner ‘Information processing’ style (assessed by instruments such as Kolb Learning Style Inventory) compared to the outer ‘Instructional preference’ style (assessed by the VARK (Visual/Aural/Read–Write/Kinaesthetic) questionnaire), which is more easily influenced by external factors. Therefore, re-examining students after one semester of teaching should result in an increase in multimodal VARK learning with lesser changes to the LSI results. A cross-sectional survey with pre-post design (n = 96) showed 45% of students remaining in the same VARK mode, 30% becoming more multimodal and 25% showing changes. Surprisingly, the LSI questionnaire showed similar results with 45% of students remaining in the same learning modality and 55% of students changing. This research highlights the dynamic changes within students’ information processing and instructional preferences.
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