Latha Rajendra Kumar
Thomas Vengail Chacko
Yenepoya Medical College, PSG-FAIMER Regional Institute
Introduction: In India, as in some other neighboring Asian countries, students and teachers are generally unaware of the differences in the learning styles among learners, which can handicap students with learning styles alien to the common teaching/learning modality within the institution. This study aims to find out whether making students aware of their learning styles and then using the Appreciative Inquiry approach to help them discover learning strategies that worked for them and others with similar learning styles within the institution made them perceive that this experience improved their learning and performance in exams. Methods: The visual, auditory, read-write, and kinesthetic (VARK) inventory of learning styles questionnaire was administered to all 100 first-year medical students of the Father Muller’s Medical College in Mangalore India to make them aware of their individual learning styles. An Appreciate Inquiry intervention was administered to 62 student volunteers who were counseled about the different learning styles and their adaptive strategies. Pre and post intervention change in student’s perception about usefulness of knowing learning styles on their learning, learning behavior, and performance in examinations was collected from the students using a prevalidated questionnaire. Results: Post intervention mean scores showed a significant change (P < 0.0001) in student's self-perceptions about usefulness of knowing one's learning style and discovering strategies that worked within the institutional environment. There was agreement among students that the intervention helped them become more confident in learning (84%), facilitating learning in general (100%), and in understanding concepts (100%). However, only 29% of the students agreed that the intervention has brought about their capability improvement in application of learning and 31% felt it improved their performance in exams. Discussion : Appreciate Inquiry was perceived as useful in helping students discover learning strategies that work for different individual learning styles and sharing them within the group helped students choose strategies to help overcome the handicap presented by the school's teaching methods.