Analysis of gender differences in learning style preferences among medical students

Rashmi Ramanathan¹,
Mohan Jayabal²,
Vinothkumar Selvaraj³,
Jeevithan Shanmugaam4

Department of Physiology,
²Associate Professor,
Department of Physiology,
³Assistant Professor
Department of Physiology,
Department of Community Medicine,
KMCH Institute of Health Sciences and Research,
Tamil Nadu, India

  • Background: Physiological brain processes determine the combination of personal learning style elements in every learner.The learning style of each student is unique. Identifying and employing appropriate learning styles could play an important role in selecting teaching styles and also to achieve the education goals ultimately.
  • Objective: The purpose of this study was to assess the preferred learning styles among the undergraduate medical students and also to evaluate the gender differences in practicing various learning styles.
  • Materials and Methods: This cross-sectional study was conducted among 150 second year medical students (72 males and 78 females). A validated VARK questionnaire was used to categorize the various learning styles of the students. The questionnaire consisted of 16 questions which identified the four learning styles: Visual, Aural, Reading- Writing and Kinesthetic and few open-ended questions as well. Descriptive statistics were used to identify the learning styles of students and data were analyzed by using SPSS software. Chi-square test was used to assess the association between learning preferences and sex.
  • Results: The study showed that 28% of male students and 50% of female students preferred unimodal style of learning, 72% of males and 50% of females preferred bimodal style of learning. This clearly shows that male students are more diverse in choosing their preferred method of learning style when compared to the female students.
  • Conclusion: Large proportion of male medical students preferred bimodal style of learning when compared to female students. It can be recommended that the learning preferences of medical students can be ascertained prior to the start of their academic tasks by using VARK questionnaire. As per the current study, students need to try different strategies to educate themselves. It is better for both lecturers and students to try various appropriate teaching-learning styles in order to promote their problem-solving skills and achieve greater educational goals.

Keywords: bimodal learning, learning style, unimodal learning, VARK questionnaire