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A Preference for Hands-on Learning: A Cross Sectional Study Assessing Dental Students' Preferred Style for Receiving Curricula

Background: Dentistry education requires a great deal of hands-on learning as well as content-based learning. Although each individual has a unique learning style, our group of educators sought to understand the predominant learning style preferences of a cohort of 84 dental students. The aim of this study was to investigate the learning style preferences of first, second and third year Saudi female dental students in the College of Dentistry.

Materials and method: The research team invited all students at a large, allfemale university in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to engage in a cross sectional study. This project assessed learning styles using the Visual, Aural, Read-write, and Kinesthetic (VARK) questionnaire.

Results: A total of 84 female dental students (more than 3/4 of the entire dental college cohort) returned the completed the questionnaire. The majority (91.5%) were between the ages of 19-22 years old. Just over half of students (54.7%) preferred multimodal learning style preference, meaning that they had no specific strong preference for a single learning style. Of those who had a strong preference for a specific, Kinesthetic (learning by doing) was the most commonly chosen (20.2%).

Conclusion: The majority of the female dental students in this cohort preferred a mixed learning method. For those who had a single, strong preference, learning by doing ranked highest. The results of this study can provide useful information for educators of the learning style preferences of students and facilitate student learning by developing appropriate teaching strategies. Relying less on demonstration and more on hands-on and mixed method teaching may be the most pleasurable and productive strategy for this cohort.


Bridget Stirling

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