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Identification and Comparison of the Learning styles of MBBS students of the Conventional and Modular System by Ayyaz Ahmed

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Identification and Comparison of the Learning styles of MBBS students of the Conventional and Modular System Dr. Ayyaz Ahmed Bhatti, Dr. Mahvash Khan, Dr. Hamid Bashir, Saira Jahan Objective: 3To find out the frequency of different learning styles of MBBS students of the Conventional and Modular System. Place and Duration of Study: Rawal Institute of Health Sciences, Riphah International University Islamabad, Pakistan during the period, June 01, 2013- December 01, 32013. Methodology: It was a descriptive cross sectional study. A sample of total 293 students was randomly selected, out of which 159 students were from the conventional system and 134 from modular system. 4Both male and female students were administered a questionnaire, based on Kolb’s learning style inventory. The instructions for completing the form were clarified, to avoid bias during filling. It was analyzed by using SPSS 17. Results: Out of 293 students, 134 (45%) belonged to the modular system and 159 (55%) were from the conventional system. Majority of students were accommodators in the modular system 4while convergers, divergers and assimilators were less in number. In the conventional system majority of students were convergers while accommodators, divergers and assimilator were less in number. Conclusion: The integrated modular system had more accommodators who believe in hands on practical learning whereas, the conventional system had more convergers who rely more on the abstract thinking or ideas. Key words: Learning style, Accommodator, Diverger, Assimilator, Converger. Introduction: Learning is the process of obtaining new or changing and strengthening the existing information, behaviors, skills, values or preferences and building up different types of knowledge. It is the gradual process of getting information from experience. Learning styles vary from individual to individual. Each person prefers different learning styles and techniques.2 Kolb learning style inventory was designed to focus on the learning process for the individual derived from experimental learning theory (ELT).3 5Kolb’s model work on two levels, a four stage cycle consisting of Concrete Experience (CE), Reflective observation (RO), Abstract conceptualization (AO) and Active Experimentation (AE) and four types of learners have been identified consisting of 9Divergers (CE/RO), Assimilators (AC/RO), Convergers (AC/AE), Accommodators (CE/AE). 4 2Concrete experience is involvement in a new experience, Reflective observation means observing others or developing opinions about one’s own experience, Abstract conceptualization is the forming theories to enlighten observations and Active experimentation is using theories to solve problems and to make decisions. Kolb identified four types of learners. The Divergers learn best through concrete experience and reflective observation. They prefer to learn via logical instructions or hands-on experience with conversations. They take experiences and think deeply about them and like to receive constructive feedback. The Convergers show best results 1when there is a simple and correct answer to a problem. Their principal learning abilities are abstract conceptualization and active experimentation. The Accommodators show best results through concrete experimentation. Accommodators love 1to have new experiences. They are intuitive and often use the trial-and-error approach to solve problems. The Assimilator is the combination of abstract conceptualization and reflective observation. They like to organize diverse items into an integrated whole and have the most cognitive approach, preferring to think than to act.5 Problem based learning is a learning tool in which patient’s problem is used as a trigger for the students to acquire knowledge and to develop their problem solving skills. The new subject is taught to the students by the strategy of problem solving. Students learn and at the same time enhance their abilities related to finding solutions to problems. Students apply the knowledge they have and discover what they need to know. They improve their communication skills and abilities to work successfully in the team.6 Learning these skills early in life is helpful in the later practical life. In PBL working, students first 6identify what they previously know, what they must know and how and where to access new information that may lead to resolution of the problem. 7 In a problem-based learning model as compared to traditional didactic lectures students solve problems though team work and in a challenging and interesting way. Students apply their theoretical knowledge to problems occurring in real life and they reach to the solutions through collaborative efforts of the team. The motivation to solve a problem becomes the motivation to learn. Students taught by PBL method show less surface learning, more deep learning and more versatility in learning styles, compared with students taught by traditional didactic methods.8 Traditional teaching methodologies at any level of education often produce students who are bored with their education. They are forced to memorize huge amounts of information which is mostly irrelevant and not helpful in the practical implication. Students forget soon what they memorize and they are unable to practically apply knowledge. PBL approach promotes self - learning in students and they learn how to work as a team. Students become active and self- learners. Assessment of graduates from the Arabian Gulf University, which practices the PBL method, recommend its use in areas of clinical competence, interpersonal relations and self- directed learning.9 Studies have shown that as compared to traditional teaching the results of the students in the modular system with PBL approach improved. Student’s attitude towards learning also improved with PBL and they found PBL enjoyable and interesting.10 PBL is a guideline for the students in their journey from the theoretical world to actual practical approach. The newly established institutions are implementing PBL from the first year and are making relevant changes in their curriculum for making PBL approach successful and beneficial for the students.11 This study was conducted to find out the frequency of different type of learners in conventional lecture based system and the new integrated modular system using PBL approach. In the ongoing shift from the conventional to the modular system this study will help us in making this transition fruitful and successful. Methodology: Subject and study design: It was a cross sectional study, conducted at Rawal Institute of Health sciences and Riphah International University from June 2013 to December 2013. 293 volunteer students belonging to 7MBBS course were requested to participate in the study, after informed consent data was collected using predesigned, pretested, self-administered structured questionnaires. Out of total 293 respondents 159 students (116 males and 43 females) were from conventional system of education and 134 (22 males and 112 females) belonged to modular system of education. The instructions for completing the form were clarified, to avoid random and chance bias during filling. After explaining the aim of study and the method of data collection, all students were asked to return the distributed questionnaires. Instrument for determination of 10learning style: Kolb’s learning style inventory (LSI) was used to collect the initial answers and ranking of each participant. Calculations were done to reach the conclusion (learning style of each student). The LSI is composed of two parts: Concerete experience Vs Abstract conceptualization and Active experiment Vs Reflective observative. Each part contains 6 divisions, each with two options. Each respondent was requested to opt for the one option according to his/her preference. “Table: 01. Learning Style Questionnaire (LSQ) Part 1: Concrete Experience VS Abstract Conceptualization 1. I prefer: a. Hands-on learning experiences b. Learning through thinking and reasoning 2. I tend to: a. Rely on feeling when making decisions b. Rely on logical reasoning when making decision 3. I learn more effectively from: a. My peers b. My teacher 4. I like learning through: a. Simulations b. Lectures 5. I lean well by: a. Practical experience b. Applying theories to hypothetical situations 6. I am best at learning: a. Facts b. Concepts Part 2: Active Experiment Vs Reflective Observative 1. I learn best through: a. Active involvement in projects b. Observation 2. I would rather: a. Do volunteer work with disadvantaged youth b. Read about disadvantaged youth 3. I prefer assignment that: a. Require me to work examples b. Require me to think about situations. 4. I learn well through: a. Participation in a discussion b. Listening to what other have to say 5. I tend to: a. Jump right in and do something new b. Think about possible outcome before trying something new. 6. I learn best: a. By doing b. Watching and then reflecting “ Determination of Learning Style: An excel sheet was prepared by the authors to compute all the information and identify learning styles of respondents who belong to two different systems of education. SPSS was used to get the descriptive statistics. Data was entered in a Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS trial version.17) Results: Out of 293 students, 159 students (55%) received the conventional educational program and 134 (45%) received the integrated modular curriculum as shown in pie chart below: Figure: 01 Distribution of Students in the Modular and Conventional Systems Second yr Modular 17% First yr Conventional 30% First year Modular 28% Second yr Conventional 25% A great majority are accommodators while convergers are in minority in modular system and are shown in pie chart below: Figure: 02. Learning Styles of the students in the Modular System Accomodators 16% Convergers 07.% Total45% Divergers 11% Assimilators 11% In conventional educational program Convergers are in great majority number while Divergers are less in number. Figure: 03 Learning Styles of students in the Conventional System Accomodators 10% Convergers Total 30% 55% Divergers Assimilators 5% 10% The percentage of different learning styles in two different system of education are shown in table below Table: 02 Percentage of different Learning Styles in Conventional system Learning style Percentage Accommodators 10% Convergers 30% Divergers 05% Assimilators 10% Total 55% Table: 03 Percentage of different Learning Styles in Modular system Learning style Percentage Accomodators 16% Convergers 07% Divergers 11% Assimilators 11% Total 45% Table: 04 Percentage of different learning styles in the conventional and modular system Learning style Percentage Accomodators 26% Convergers 37% Divergers 16% Assimilators 21% Figure: 04 Percentage of Different Learning Styles of Students in the Conventional and Modular System 40% 35% 30% 25% 20% 15% 10% 5% 0% Accomodators Convergers Divergers Assimilators Percentage Discussion: As faculty our main aim is to convey the best of knowledge to our students, by the taken for granted teaching mode but this is the responsibility of 3the teacher to understand the students’ learning style and adapt rather than expecting the students to adapt to his/her style of teaching. If we continue to teach others the way we learn best, assuming that this will also work for all the students, our teaching is most likely to become less rewarding. In class room the teacher comes across a variety of learning styles. The problem is not the mismatch of student/faculty but it is the failure of the teacher if he is unable to judge the weaknesses and the strength of his students and make use of it in the best way to overcome his weakness and use his strength.12 Students will never be burdened and bored of teaching if the new information is given to them in a style that is acceptable to them. Students gain more knowledge when their teachers recognize their strengths and weaknesses as learners. The students will definitely show good results if learning is made pleasurable. For faculty members the identification of learning styles of their students can make teaching fruitful and beneficial for the students. The learning and the teaching styles can be changed for variety of different learners in the class and also for the different subjects that are taught. The most successful teachers use different modes of communication for different type of learners. In Pakistan medical education is undergoing change from the conventional to the integrated modular system and problem based learning. The identification of learning styles of the students of both the systems will be very helpful in making this transition successful and beneficial for the students. Nowadays medical educationists all over the world put lot of emphasis on assessing learning styles of medical students and to determine their coping abilities as a part of the educational policy. It has been recommended that educationists must 8take learning style preferences of health science students into consideration when planning, implementing, and evaluating teaching activities.( 16) Conclusion The outcome of our study reveals that majority of students were accommodators in modular setup and convergers in the conventional system. Keeping this in mind our faculty members must focus on adopting teaching styles that will help students believing in concrete experience, abstract conceptualization and active experimentation.