Learning styles - Do they matter?

A T Wilkinson, M Boohan, M Stevenson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Educational research on learning styles has been conducted for some time, initially within the field of psychology. More recent research has been conducted in more diverse disciplines, with greater emphasis on application. There is also a wide variety of instruments available to measure style, which can be confusing to both teacher and learner alike. However, it is generally accepted that learning styles differ, although the qualities of more than one style may be inherent in any one learner. But do these learning styles have a direct effect on student performance in examinations, specifically in different forms of assessment? Using the Honey and Mumford Learning Style Questionnaire, learning styles of medical students at Queen's University Belfast have been monitored for the past 4 years. Despite demographic changes, with more graduate students being admitted more recently, the mean score for reflectors has been consistently highest (14.8-16.1), followed by theorist (11.8-12.3), pragmatist (10.9-11.4) and then activist (7.2-8.6). At Cardiff University, the VAK method was used to test learning styles of science students, with the highest scores being attained for visual learners (4.9), followed by auditory (4.3) and then kinaesthetic (3.9). The scores for the different student learning styles was then correlated with their results in different types of assessments - single best answer, short answer questions and objective structured clinical examinations in a variety of subjects. Although the correlations were statistically significant in some cases, they generally appeared to be weak. It therefore seems from this study that although the learning styles of students vary, they have little effect on performance in specific forms of assessment.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationJournal of Anatomy
Place of PublicationA.T. Wilkinson, Cardiff University, United Kingdom
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Publication series

NameJournal of Anatomy


  • anatomy
  • clinical examination
  • examination
  • graduate student
  • honey
  • human
  • learning style
  • medical student
  • psychology
  • questionnaire
  • society
  • student
  • teacher
  • university
  • winter


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