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Profiling physiotherapy student preferred learning styles within a clinical education context

Abstract

Objectives

This study investigated the preferred learning styles, related to clinical education of a cohort of final year physiotherapy students.

Design

A cross sectional observation study using a questionnaire survey.

Setting

Undergraduate physiotherapy program at James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland.

Participants

48 final year physiotherapy students representing 89% of the total cohort (48/54).

Interventions

Survey questionnaire using Kolb's Learning Style Inventory (Version 3.1).

Results

The preferred learning styles were spread uniformly across the three learning styles of Converging, Assimilating and Accommodating, with the least preferred method of learning style the Diverging style. This suggests that in the clinical environment this student cohort are least likely to prefer to develop their learning from actually experiencing the scenario i.e. in front of a real life patient (concrete experience), and were more likely prefer this learning to come from a theoretical perspective, allowing them to consider the problem/scenario before experiencing it. When transforming this experience into knowledge, they prefer to use it on a ‘real life’ patient (active experimentation).

Conclusion

Whilst understanding learning styles have been promoted as a means of improving the learning process, there remains a lack of high level evidence. The findings of this study reinforce those of other studies into the learning styles of physiotherapy students suggesting that physiotherapy students share common learning style profiles.

Cite this article

Profiling physiotherapy student preferred learning styles within a clinical education context.Physiotherapy - June 2013 (Vol. 99, Issue 2, Pages 146-152, DOI: 10.1016/j.physio.2012.05.004)Steve Milanese, Susan Gordon, Aya Pellatt

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