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This article has been peer reviewed. It is the author’s final published version in BMC Medical Education

Volume 16, Issue 1, August 2016, Article number 205

The published version is available at DOI: 10.1186/s12909-016-0720-3. Copyright © Papanagnou et al.


BACKGROUND: Students may have different learning styles. It is unclear, however, whether tailoring instructional methods for a student's preferred learning style improves educational outcomes when teaching procedures. The authors sought to examine whether teaching to a student's self-perceived learning style improved the acquisition of intravenous (IV) catheter placement skills. The authors hypothesized that matching a medical student's preferred learning style with the instructor's teaching style would increase the success of placing an IV catheter.

METHODS: Using the VARK model (i.e., visual [V], auditory [A], read/write [R] and kinesthetic [K]), third-year medical students reported their self-perceived learning style and were subsequently randomized to instructors who were trained to teach according to a specific learning format (i.e., visual, auditory). Success was gauged by: 1) the placement of an IV on the first attempt and 2) the number of attempts made until an IV line was successfully placed.

RESULTS: The average number of attempts in the matched learning style group was 1.53, compared to 1.64 in the unmatched learning style group; however, results were not statistically significant. Both matched and unmatched groups achieved a similar success rate (57 and 58 %, respectively). Additionally, a comparison of success between the unmatched and matched students within each learning style modality yielded no statistical significance.

CONCLUSIONS: Results suggest that providing procedural instruction that is congruent with a student's self-perceived learning style does not appear to improve outcomes when instructing students on IV catheter placement.

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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