Learning style versus time spent studying and career choice: Which is associated with success in a combined undergraduate anatomy and physiology course?

Gary J. Farkas, Ewa Mazurek, Jane R. Marone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations

Abstract

The VARK learning style is a pedagogical focus in health care education. This study examines relationships of course performance vs. VARK learning preference, study time, and career plan among students enrolled in an undergraduate anatomy and physiology course at a large urban university. Students (n = 492) from the fall semester course completed a survey consisting of the VARK questionnaire, gender, academic year, career plans, and estimated hours spent per week in combined classroom and study time. Seventy-eight percent of students reported spending 15 or fewer hours per week studying. Study time and overall course score correlated significantly for the class as a whole (r = 0.111, P = 0.013), which was mainly due to lecture (r = 0.118, P = 0.009) performance. No significant differences were found among students grouped by learning styles. When corrected for academic year, overall course scores (mean±SEM) for students planning to enter dentistry, medicine, optometry or pharmacy (79.89±0.88%) were significantly higher than those of students planning to enter physical or occupational therapies (74.53±1.15%; P = 0.033), as well as nurse/physician assistant programs (73.60±1.3%; P = 0.040). Time spent studying was not significantly associated with either learning style or career choice. Our findings suggest that specific career goals and study time, not learning preferences, are associated with better performance among a diverse group of students in an undergraduate anatomy and physiology course. However, the extent to which prior academic preparation, cultural norms, and socioeconomic factors influenced these results requires further investigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)121-131
Number of pages11
JournalAnatomical Sciences Education
Volume9
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • A&P
  • Anatomy and physiology course
  • Gross anatomy education
  • Learning styles
  • Science education
  • Time management
  • Undergraduate education
  • Undergraduate education
  • VARK

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Histology
  • Embryology

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