Academic journal article European Journal of Social & Behavioural Sciences, The

Learning Style Preferences of Pharmacy Students

Academic journal article European Journal of Social & Behavioural Sciences, The

Learning Style Preferences of Pharmacy Students

Article excerpt

1. Introduction: Learning style is a term used to describe the different and preferred ways that people learn. In Pharmacy education, the broad coverage of topics and the constraints of time in classes could reduce the effectiveness of teaching-learning interactions. Knowledge and awareness of student's learning style is important to teaching and learning process. This knowledge can be used to develop, design and deliver educational program to enhance student's learning. A match between the learning style and the teaching style will lead to improved student attitudes and better academic achievement (Romanelli, Bird, & Ryan, 2009).

A number of instruments are available to assess individual learning styles (Coffield, Moseley, Hall, & Ecclestone, 2004). Of these tools, the Learning Styles Questionnaire (LSQ) (Honey & Mumford, 1992) was developed to help individuals understand how they might learn best and it determines the learning style preferences based on Kolb's Experiential Learning Theory (Kolb, 1984). According to Kolb, "Learning is the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience. Knowledge results from the combination of grasping experience and transforming it." Based on this theory, learning is regarded as a cyclic process, which involves four interdependent modes: concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualisation, and active experimentation. The theory suggests that individual uses each of the learning modes while preferring certain modes to the others. This preference for certain modes is known as learning styles. LSQ is based on Kolb's Theory (1984) and contains 80 items designed to identify four types of learners. Activists for example are learners who involve themselves fully in new experiences and dislike structured procedures. Theorists on the other hand adapt and integrate observations into complex but logically sound theories. Pragmatists like practicality, group work and tend to avoid reflection and deep levels of understanding while reflectors focus on pondering experiences and observing them from different perspectives.

LSQ was selected for use in this study for a number of reasons. First, it has been widely used in previous studies involving healthcare students (Coffield et al., 2004; Linares, 1999; Quince, Benson, Siklos, & Wood, 2007). Second, it has satisfactory reliability and validity (Allinson & John, 1988; Honey & Mumford, 1982; Sadler-Smith, 2001). Third, compared to other tools such as Vermunt's learning style (1998), and Myers-Briggs's Type Indicator (Myers, McCaulley, Quenk, & Hammer, 1998), LSQ has fewer items and thus can be completed in a shorter time.

2. Problem Statement: Little is known about the learning style preferences of the pharmacy students in the University of Malaya. Identifying their learning styles would promote optimal learning.

3. Research Questions: The three research questions were (a) what was the test-retest and internal consistency reliability for LSQ (b) what were the learning styles preferences of pharmacy students (c) which variables significantly influenced the learning styles preferences.

4. Purpose of the Study: The aim of this study was to determine the learning style preferences of pharmacy students enrolled in the program at the university.

5. Research Methods:

Design and setting

A non-experimental prospective, cross-sectional study design was used. The Ethic Committee of the University of Malaya Medical Centre, Malaysia approved the study. All students enrolled in the pharmacy programme at the University of Malaya in 2008 - 2009 were eligible. The questionnaires (in English) were distributed to the students before their lectures. In order to achieve a complete response, and to answer questions students may have had during the completion of the questionnaire, the questionnaires were completed under the supervision of the researchers. Students that completed and returned the questionnaire were considered as providing consent to participate in the study. …

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