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 Table of Contents  
ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2015  |  Volume : 2  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 10-12

Assessment of learning preferences among dental students using Visual, Aural, Read-Write, Kinesthetic questionnaire: An institutional experience


1 Department of Dental Materials and Technology, Faculty of Dentistry, MMMC, Manipal, India
2 Department of Pedodontics and Preventive Dentistry, Manipal College of Dental Sciences, Manipal, India
3 Department of Public Heath Dentistry, Manipal College of Dental Sciences, Manipal, India

Date of Web Publication8-Apr-2015

Correspondence Address:
Kalyana Chakravarthy Pentapati
Department of Public Heath Dentistry, Manipal College of Dental Sciences, Manipal
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/2348-2915.154636

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  Abstract 

Background and Objectives: Every individual has different learning style. As dental educators, it is necessary to recognize the fact that each dental student may have a preference of acquiring information and skill in one style over another. The objective of this study was to determine the learning style preferences of dental students using the Visual, Aural, Read-Write, Kinesthetic (VARK) questionnaire. Materials and Methods: The VARK questionnaire was administered to 20 1 st year and 40 2 nd year dental students of Melaka Manipal Medical College, Manipal University to determine their preferred mode of learning. Completed questionnaires were scored and tabulated to determine the distribution of VARK preferences. Results: Nearly 50% of 1 st year students were quadmodal whereas 55% of 2 nd year students were unimodal in which kinesthetic preference was dominant. Mean V and A scores were significantly higher for 1 st year than 2 nd year students. No significant gender difference was seen. Conclusion: The dental students in this study had varied learning preferences. As dental educators, we need to adopt different methods of teaching in order to reach most of the students and make the educational experience more productive.

Keywords: Dental, learning preferences, students


How to cite this article:
Saran R, Kumar S, Pentapati KC. Assessment of learning preferences among dental students using Visual, Aural, Read-Write, Kinesthetic questionnaire: An institutional experience. J Dent Res Rev 2015;2:10-2

How to cite this URL:
Saran R, Kumar S, Pentapati KC. Assessment of learning preferences among dental students using Visual, Aural, Read-Write, Kinesthetic questionnaire: An institutional experience. J Dent Res Rev [serial online] 2015 [cited 2020 Jul 8];2:10-2. Available from: http://www.jdrr.org/text.asp?2015/2/1/10/154636


  Introduction Top


Learning style refers to various approaches of taking in, organizing and processing stimuli or information. It involves educating methods, particular to an individual that are presumed to allow the individual to learn best. [1] Several studies have shown that there is a lot of variation in the learning style of students. [2],[3],[4] Learning styles can be assessed in several ways, among which Neil Fleming's Visual, Aural, Read-Write, Kinesthetic (VARK) model is one of the commonly used assessment methods. [5],[6]

Visual, Aural, Read-Write, Kinesthetic is an acronym for VARK. It is based upon the 4 sensory modalities of learners, which are categorized as visual (V), aural (A), read/write (R) and kinesthetic (K) learners. Visual (V) learners prefer to see information, think in pictures and use visual aids. Aural (A) learners learn best by listening to information. Read/write (R) learners have strong liking to emphasize text-based input and output. Kinesthetic (K) learners learn through moving, touching and performing tasks. They are active learners via experience. The learning style of students may be unimodal or multimodal depending on use of single mode or multiple mode of learning, respectively. [5],[6]

Aiding the students to recognize their learning style would make them better learners. Knowledge of learning preferences of the students can also help educators to know more about the students' learning preferences and also help them to develop effective instructional strategies to accommodate to their students' learning needs, and promote better teaching. This would eventually lead to improved pedagogic effectiveness and personality devolvement among the dental academicians. The aim of the study was to evaluate the distribution of learning preference between 1 st and 2 nd year dental students and also to evaluate any gender differences.


  Materials and Methods Top


This study was performed among dental students of Melaka Manipal Medical College, Manipal University, Manipal. Study groups consisted of 20 1 st year dental students and 40 2 nd year dental students. The VARK questionnaire was administered in English to students to determine their preferred mode of learning.

The VARK questionnaire consists of 16 questions. Each question has 4 options corresponding to the 4 sensory modalities preferences. The students were instructed to choose the answer that best described their preference. They were allowed to choose >1 answer and to leave out a question if they felt that it did not apply to them. Completed questionnaires were scored and tabulated to determine the distribution of VARK preferences. Preference rankings were calculated by totaling all "V" responses (visual), all "A" responses (aural), all "R" responses (read/write), and all "K" responses (kinesthetic). Each category was equally weighted, and dominant preference was defined by determining which category received the most responses. The questionnaire was previously administered in diverse populations including dental students without any alterations in items. [3],[4] This suggested that the questionnaire was valid and reliable tool for assessment of learning preferences.

All the analysis was done using  SPSS version 18 (SPSS Inc., Chicago, IL, USA). A P < 0.05 was considered statistically significant. Mean scores with standard deviations were calculated for each VARK component. Student's t-test was used to compare the mean VARK score between the groups.


  Results Top


The pattern of distribution of learning style among 1 st and 2 nd year dental students group is depicted in [Table 1]. Majority of 1 st year dental students preferred multiple mode of learning with nearly 50% being quadmodal. Nearly 55% of 2 nd year dental students preferred a single mode of learning, in which kinesthetic preference was dominant. Comparison of the mean VARK scores between 1 st and 2 nd year dental students showed that the mean V and A scores were significantly higher for 1 st year than 2 nd year students [Table 2].
Table 1: Distribution dental students with preferred learning styles


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Table 2: Comparison of VARK mean scores of 1st and 2nd year dental students


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  Discussion Top


Current educational system emphasizes the way students are being taught. VARK questionnaire is extensively used by researchers to analyze the learning preferred learning styles. Previous report by Miller have shown that when students were taught in their preferred mode of learning, their learning was enhanced. [7] In accordance to previous studies, [2],[8] our study also showed that most of the 2 nd year students preferred using a single sensory modality with high kinesthetic preference. Some of these students might be at learning the disadvantage due to conventional and traditional didactic lectures. However, use of teaching approaches that incorporate the kinesthetic learning style, like engaging students in tactile demonstrations or in directly manipulating objects, might help in improving the learning among students. Majority of 1 st year dental students in our study were multimodal learners. Teaching multimodal learners could be a challenge to the educators. Multimodal learners include bimodal, trimodal and quadmodal. Such individuals may have learning preference combinations of VA, VR, VK, AR, AK, RK, VAR, VAK, VRK, ARK, and VARK. Hence, it would be challenging for the educators to satisfy all the 4 modes of learning preferences to make the students understand the topics although these students can easily adapt to >1 mode of information presentation.

A higher visual (V) and aural (A) mean scores for 1 st year dental students was also found in the study. This would imply that lectures with power-point presentations containing flow charts, illustrations, pictures and audio-visual demonstrations of various exercises would satisfy the needs of most 1 st year dental students.

The results of our study would enable the teachers in acknowledging learning differences that exist among the professional students and to make efforts to address some of these differences by embracing multiple modes of teaching approaches in order to reach out to most of the students and enhance their learning experience. This study had certain limitations like it was carried in a small sample in a single center and only in the preclinical phase of the dental curriculum. Hence, future studies should include large sample with multicentric surveys and also include different phases of the dental curriculum. A follow-up of these subjects to evaluate their change in learning preferences might also shed some light in their learning preferences. This would help in developing and understanding the needs of the dental students and indirectly help the academicians in developing their pedagogic effectiveness and personality development. The knowledge of learning preferences of the students will help the teachers to develop appropriate teaching strategies to cater to the needs of their learners. This in turn will help to make the educational experience more productive. As from the students' point of view, awareness about their learning preferences would result in more effective assimilation of the knowledge, thereby enhancing their learning experience.


  Acknowledgement Top


We are thankful to the author Neil Fleming for giving us the permission to use the VARK questionnaire.

 
  References Top

1.
Davidson GV. Matching learning styles with teaching styles: Is it a useful concept in instruction? Perform Instr 1990;29:36-8.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Khalid MS, Haroon SQ, Muhammad SK, Umar F. Learning preferences of dental students at Islamabad medical and dental college. Pak Oral Dent J 2012;32:326-9.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Navin R, Suganthi V, Suzanne MD. Learning preferences of students studying physiology in South India. J Dent Med Sci 2013;7:15-9.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Shenoy N, Shenoy K A, U P R. The perceptual preferences in learning among dental students in clinical subjects. J Clin Diagn Res 2013;7:1683-5.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Fleming N. VARK: A Guide to Learning Styles. Available from: http://www.vark-learn.com. [Last accessed on 2014 30 Dec].  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
Fleming ND. I'm different; not dumb. Modes of presentation (VARK) in the tertiary classroom. In: Sydney EA, editor. Research and Development in Higher Education. Vol. 18. Proceedings of the 1995 Annual Conference of the Higher Education and Research Development Society of Australasia; 1995. p. 308-13.  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.
Miller JA. Enhancement of achievement and attitudes through individualized learning-style presentations of two allied health courses. J Allied Health 1998;27:150-6.  Back to cited text no. 7
    
8.
Narayana MC, Ramesh VL, Gowramma R. A study on VARK learning Style of SJM Dental College and Hospital Students, Chitradurga. J Educ Res Med Teach 2014;2:33-6.  Back to cited text no. 8
    



 
 
    Tables

  [Table 1], [Table 2]



 

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Abstract
Introduction
Materials and Me...
Results
Discussion
Acknowledgement
References
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