Students retain and process information differently depending on the learning style. For students to understand the learning process, it is worth thinking critically about how they learn and which approach works best when completing coursework. By recognizing the best learning styles to use, they can have greater control over the work they have to do. When students gain more understanding of their preferred learning style, there are techniques and tools they can use to maximize their learning. Being aware of how best to learn can be helpful when working in healthcare as it will impact keeping records, time management and other work tasks.
In a clinical setting, there is a lot of data to be processed when working with patients. When working as a nurse, data will come in all formats, such as auditory data from monitoring devices, numerical data for a patient’s vital signs or laboratory values, and charts with data to be read in various ways. Healthcare students can benefit from understanding how they learn effectively. However, they will use most of the learning styles in their courses and can benefit from knowing how to use each method best.
If students find out about their learning styles when studying, it will be useful for them at work. They can arrange professional development that relates to their preferred learning style, such as online courses, reading textbooks or attending workshops. They will learn and retain more information if they are comfortable with the mode of delivery.
Online nurse practitioner programs train nurses to diagnose and treat illnesses, order and interpret diagnostic tests, and prescribe medications. Specialisms include family practice, mental health, pediatrics and women’s health. However, is becoming a nurse practitioner worth it? If you have been considering this question, keep reading.
Meharry Medical College and student learning styles
Meharry Medical College, a historically black institution that educates healthcare professionals, introduced a new course that took into account the students’ learning styles. Breast cancer mortality and morbidity in African Americans was added to its program with a course in physical diagnosis for African-American medical students. Nurse practitioners implemented the following changes.
Medical students were to be taught how to carry out clinical breast examinations and interview patients to determine the required diagnostic information. They would also learn how to communicate with patients effectively and sensitively.
The learning styles of each student were addressed, and as they need to become lifelong learners, the teaching methods supported self-directed learning. Some students learn well from lectures, but this is not true for everyone. The breast cancer education course designed for Meharry students encompassed several different instructional formats. In this program, students were responsible for the reading materials they engaged with. There were breast examination videos available that were helpful for visual learners. For kinesthetic learners, there was practical instruction and role-playing. Intuitive learners could select to have ongoing instruction and independent practice with simulated patients. Another essential component was independent learning practice away from the classroom.
Students were encouraged to embed learning by teaching friends, family and peers. Students observed a breast examination being performed and then did the examination themselves. From this, they could teach others to perform the examination and, finally, teach their patients.
The program is still in its early stages. However, feedback from students so far has indicated that they enjoy the sessions and that a mix of practice sessions, lectures, reading materials and video has been beneficial. This approach helps students to retain knowledge and become patient-focused and clinically competent. These skills are critical in supporting students to move on from academic learning to practice. Using simulated patients in clinical training gives practical experience. It allows for the assessment of a student’s performance from the patient’s point of view, which can be helpful for student nurses and medical students.
The program used minority nurse practitioners to teach and update the curriculum, which could be an effective approach in medical colleges and nursing schools. Nurse practitioners are experienced in medicine and nursing, and can play a central role in teaching healthcare professionals to interact with minority women patients with respect and dignity and teach them to save their own lives through early detection.
VARK model of learning
An educational approach that addresses personalized learning looks to adapt learning to meet each student’s skills, strengths, interests and needs. Learning plans can be modified to suit a particular learner or class. Being aware of the VARK (visual, auditory, reading/writing and kinesthetic) model can assist when planning online or face-to-face lessons. It can help students use learning strategies that improve their study and learning.
The VARK modalities can be used to learn and retain information. By using personalized learning methods, students can become more independent when studying. Teachers can support learning that uses one or more styles, and give students opportunities to learn data and apply this knowledge in various contexts. The four styles will be used for various purposes and at different times. It is unlikely that only one style will be used. Usually, the learner will change style depending on the circumstance, and this approach is known as multimodal.
Every student learns differently, and this can affect their knowledge retention and performance. The VARK modalities can help teachers plan lessons that produce a multimodal classroom and inspire personalized learning. The modalities can be incorporated into the content when the course is developed. Particular subjects are more easily connected to certain styles. Content created in various forms and taught numerous times can assist students in understanding the material by activating different parts of the brain.
The advantage of using the VARK modalities is that teachers and learners can adjust their actions to personalize learning. Teachers can base their lessons and encourage learning by utilizing a foundation of preferred learning styles. Learners can be helped to find their best learning style and optimize their knowledge using the style that suits them most. These strategies can be used at work and can foster lifelong longing.
Improving learning styles
Students can maximize their learning by making the most of opportunities to help or observe colleagues. When things go wrong at work, it is best to reflect and decide on how to improve in the future. Students who learn from mistakes will enhance their skills and knowledge. Finding effective studying strategies and understanding learning styles can enhance the education experience. However, working in healthcare will necessitate understanding data in various ways, and knowing how to use each learning style to its full potential is worthwhile.
The VARK model of learning consists of four learning types: visual, auditory, reading/writing and kinesthetic. Understanding the way that our brain works and how we process information is crucial for educational achievement. It can make learning each day easier and studying more effective.
This style means that learners prefer receiving visual information and forming mental images to retain what they have learned. Visual learners retain information best when it has visual features such as colors, diagrams and videos. Learners need to form mental images to understand information.
Numerous tools can support learning and enable visual learners to absorb and understand information. Highlighters or colored pens can be used to mark important details such as dates or names. Using different colors can help in differentiating between subjects. Creating visual representations of what you are learning can help with knowledge retention. This could include mind maps, concept maps, charts and diagrams. Visual tools can be an instrument that helps students reach conclusions when studying. Visual tools can be used in various ways to help in time management, organization, and the planning and presentation of work. This can contribute to professional development and assist in carrying out healthcare duties.
Nursing students could use concept maps to show elements of a disease or plans of care for patients. Charts and graphs help in understanding data and its relation to the patient or disease. Tables can be used to compare diseases that are similar or very different (e.g., Addison’s versus Cushing’s). Textbooks or searches online can show illustrations or photographs of the physiologic pathway, anatomy or disease condition. Videos, demonstrations and animations can provide visual learning. When working, visual skills can be used to observe the situation, see how the patient appears, and witness what other staff are doing with the patient and how the patient responds.
Visual learners will do better in live lectures and classes and not so well in online teaching. Teachers can accommodate visual learners by using different visual methods to impart information. They can use the board, give practical demonstrations, and give students more opportunities to use visual tools in assignments.
There is plenty of reading and writing in nursing school, so students will have to do it even if it is not their chosen learning style. This type of learner learns mostly by reading and writing and prefers to process information by reading handouts, textbooks and notes. These learners use dictionaries and reference books.
Using highlighters and taking notes can be useful, but it is better not to highlight too much. Students should have a system that targets what they most need to know. This kind of learner can also benefit from translating images into written descriptions. Notes from lectures can be rewritten, and bullet points put into paragraphs.
This style means that learners benefit from using headings, lists, dictionaries and definitions to learn concepts. They can also learn by rewriting information in their own words and completing practice test questions. This type of learning style can work well with online learning. Some students may read every word of a course textbook, but most will not and can benefit from skim and scan reading. Skim reading involves reading quickly to get an overview of the subject, and scan reading is reading quickly to get the main facts.
Students using an auditory learning style benefit from listening to information and discussing what they have learned. Learners who strongly prefer auditory learning can try focusing on listening to a lecture and not making notes. After the lecture, they can look at the lecture objectives and write their notes. It could be beneficial for auditory learners to make notes during the lecture. Students could try this first with a recorded lecture to ensure that it works for them.
Auditory learners can benefit from hearing a lecture twice, recording it themselves, and then reading their notes as they listen for a second time. They can collaborate with other auditory learners to discuss and exchange information.
Students can remember key data by making up a song or story. Visual information can be changed to written statements. Students can write a paragraph that describes a diagram, chart or image in a textbook. Saying the paragraph out loud can help in remembering it. Other methods are reading out loud or using an app to audio-read digital textbooks.
In a clinical setting, students can pay attention to auditory signals such as what patients say, the sounds made by patients, what is heard with a stethoscope, monitors, and others talking about the patient. These are all ways to collect information and learn more about the patient.
This is learning by touch, involvement and movement. When these learners interact with the surrounding area, they remember more and can process information better. This type of learner processes information best when they experience things themselves. They like being active and using real materials and tools. They want to explore and understand subjects better if practical examples are used. These learners’ strengths are knowing how to do something when they have done it themselves, being creative, navigating, and understanding the environment and how things work.
In nursing school, there is plenty of kinesthetic learning. This practical learning happens in skills laboratories, clinical and simulations. The learning can be maximized by doing as much as possible. When an assessment skill has been learned in the laboratory, it can be practiced several times with a real person. This is also true with ADLs (activities of daily living). Students can see if a friend or family member will agree to be practiced on. It can help kinesthetic learners to remember information if they are physically active while learning. This could involve tossing a ball while listening or using a fidget toy. In clinical, students should get active and involved, doing as much as possible. If these learners keep their hands busy, their brains will also be busy.
Teaching healthcare students
Learning styles can be used when reflecting on a situation. Reflection involves learning and thinking to deliver a better outcome. Nursing is based on practice, and nurses must reflect on the care given and how to improve. Students who know their learning styles can identify areas of weakness and use strategies to improve. Students can make the most of their preferred way of learning and work to improve the way that they use other learning styles. Unimodal students have one dominant learning style, whereas multimodal learners have more than one. There are many influences on learning style, such as educational level, gender, age and geographical background. Learning styles can change as situations change.
Research into bachelor’s degree nursing and associate degree nursing found that unimodal learners preferred kinesthetic learning, followed by visual and auditory. The style preferred the least was reading/writing. The multimodal style was most popular with bachelor’s degree students, but associate degree learners preferred unimodal. This suggested that different teaching strategies should be used with each group. The bachelor’s degree group preferred to receive information in various ways and should be able to adapt to the different styles. The associate degree group teachers could present kinesthetic learning with some auditory learning, as this was the secondary style.
It was found that both groups of students preferred the kinesthetic learning style. This indicates that nursing students prefer to learn by practicing and using all their senses: touch, sight, smell, hearing and taste. They also like their teachers to use practical teaching methods to teach, including metaphors, analogies and real-life examples. Teachers can also use field trips, role play, experiments and games. The other finding was that the reading/writing style was the lowest for all students. This suggested that traditional methods such as blackboards and textbooks would not work well with these groups. Adapted textbooks and multimedia teaching should be part of the teaching approach.
If students understand what their learning style is, they can use this knowledge to study in the most effective way. The four learning styles represent different modes of learning, and each one has strategies and methods that make learning and retaining information easier. It is beneficial for teachers to be aware of learning styles and differentiate their teaching to ensure that all learning styles are catered for.
In healthcare, there is a continual progression in research and treatment, and using the appropriate learning style can help in keeping up to date with modern practice. Healthcare staff can use learning styles to maximize their learning and adopt a self-motivated and continuous approach to lifelong learning.