Analysing of the Learning Style of Medical Students and Physical Education Students


Knowledge of learning style can enhance the ability of teachers to build on student experiences and construct new learning opportunities. It is about how a person learns than what a person learn. This study examines the learning styles preferences in medical and physical education university students and the differences in their learning according to Learning Styles Kolb Questionnaire. This questionnaire is design to find out the preferred learning style and differs from other tests of learning style and personality used in education by being based on a comprehensive theory of learning and development. The group consist in 222 students. Six variables were assesses: four primary scores that measure an individual’s relative emphasis on the four learning orientations: Concrete Experience (CE), Reflective Observation (RO), Abstract Conceptualization (AC), and Active Experimentation (AE), and two combination scores that measure an individual’s preference for abstractness over concreteness (AC-CE) and action over reflection (AE-RO). According to the results of the study after applied One Way Anova and Bonferoni with SPSS package program it was seen that are not significant differences between groups for three learning orientation. Only for Abstract Conceptualization (AC) were founded differences between groups. With the results, we bring out the inventory of students learning stylea and performance.

Keywords: Learning stylestudentsquestionnaire


Research studies on learning styles have shown that learning can be enhanced through consideration

of personal characteristics in design. Because some learners tend to focus on facts, data, or procedures,

engaging with theories and mathematical models is appropriate. Some learners use visual information

like pictures, diagrams, and simulations to understand better, while others can get more from oral and

written information. Researchers have argued that learning style also functions as a useful indicator for

potential learning performance (Kolb & Kolb, 2005; Mainemelis, Boyatzis & Kolb, 2002; Engels & de

Gara, 2010; Ventura & Moscoloni, 2015; Samarakoon et al, 2013).

In order to identify the learning styles, we have established that the most appropriate course of

action is to identify them based on the EBLS model (Experience Based on Learning System),

conceived by David A. Kolb, professor of organizational development at Case Western Reserve

University in Cleveland, Ohio. Kolb (1981) defines the learning styles as representing preferences for

one mode of adaptation over the others; but these preferences do not operate to the exclusion of other

adaptive modes and will vary from time to time and situation to situation.

Any attempt to describe learning starts from the characteristics of this process. The theory of

experiential learning (TEL) proposed by Kolb (1984) defines learning: (1) as a holistic process of

adaptation to the world; (2) involves transactions between the individual and the environment; is best

conceived as a process; (3) is the process of creating knowledge; (4) is continuous and based on

experience; (5) requires the resolving of conflicts between the individual and the environment, this

occurring by choosing one out of four solutions: Concrete Experience (CE), Reflective Observation

(RO), Abstract Conceptualization (AC) and Active Experimentation (AE) – notions that we will

elaborate on below.

The theory developed by David Kolb is all the more interesting as it invites us to follow the

description of the styles of learning and of their main characteristics: Concrete experience (CE)

(emotions and senses) – is a style of learning that indicates a perspective centered on the individual.

Reflexive observation (RO) – is an approach on the learning process that is centered on observation

and reflexive learning. Conceptualization or generalization and abstraction (AC) – is a style of

learning that indicates an analytic and conceptual approach to learning. Active experimentation (AE)

– this style of learning shows an active approach to learning (action-oriented), and it relies on


Starting from these characteristics of the learning process, and keeping in mind that there cannot be

only one dominant, we can describe four big categories of learning styles : Accommodating, Diverging,

Assimilating and Converging (Kolb & Kolb, 2005).

The Accommodating style of learning combines the stages of Concrete Experience (CE) with

Active Experimentation (AE). People with this learning style: assimilate information mostly through

practical experiences, most of the time ignoring the theory; plan and get involved in new, provocative

experiences; rely more on what they sense, on feelings, and not so much on logical analyses; rely on

information obtained from others, and much less on their own work of selecting information – which

can lead to activities that have no basis for argumentation; finish what they start; they take the risks of

their own actions.

The Diverging Style is a combination between the Concrete Experience (CE) and Reflective

Observation (RO). People with this style of learning: show a mostly intuitive capacity of assimilating

information; have a great capacity for using their imaginative capabilities and the ability of seeing

complex situations from more perspectives, but also for rebuilding the original whole from information

pieces; have the capacity to understand others and to identify problems when they appear; can get stuck

in the process of identifying options.

The Assimilating Style is a cross between Abstract Conceptualization (AC) and Reflective

Observation (RO). People who are characterized by this learning style: are capable of creating

theoretical and rational-inductive models, sometimes even ignoring the facts if they don't correspond to

the theory they elaborated; are focused on learning through analysis, planning and reflection; lack


The Converging Style results from Abstract Conceptualization (AC) and Active Experimentation

(AE). Convergent subjects: accumulate knowledge through analysis and then subsequently apply the

new ideas or concepts in practice; systematize the information through hypothetical-deductive, logical

reasoning; define problems and make decisions “cool-headed”.

In a dynamic society, in which the pieces of information follow one another in quick succession, and

in which it becomes difficult – if not even impossible, sometimes – to keep up with the latest

discoveries, the process of assimilating data – and consequently the learning process – becomes vital.

The authors of this article are University teachers and have observed first-hand the changes that have

occurred in the past years regarding the process of teaching and of remembering the information that is

taught. In a desire to identify what would be the best methods of teaching in order to ensure that the

information provided will be assimilated and acquired by students, we have started on the path of

identifying learning styles, so that in an ulterior step we would also build the teaching methods that are

appropriate and adapted to the requests of the subject being taught and to the needs of students at the

same time.

The purpose of our study was to examine the preferences learning styles of medical students and

physical education students, the differences in their learning according to Learning Styles Kolb

Questionnaire and to show any differences between groups.

Material and methods


The study group consists of 222 students who study at “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University from Iasi,

and University of Medicine and Pharmacy from Iasi. The mean values of age of these students is

21,42±2.37 years. They study in different specialization as: General medicine - GM (53 subjects);

General Nurse – GN (59 subjects); Kinetotherapy and Special Motricity - KSM (52 subjects);

Kinetotherapy and Sports Traumatology – KST (58 subjects). The subjects were informed about the

process of the study and them given an oral accord for participation voluntarily to the study. In the

same time, we obtained the approval of the Ethics Commission from Faculty of Physical Education and

Sports Faculty. The research took place during one week in month of October 2015, and consists in a

self-administrated questionnaire.


To evaluate the learning style of university students, we used the short questionnaire of Learning

Style Inventory (LSI) and consist in 9 items (Kolb & Kolb, 2005). For each item, respondents gave

points from 4 to 1. Four points were given to the word who characterized mostly and descending to one

for others three words. The total higher score represent the learning style.

Six variables were assesses: four primary scores that measure an individual’s relative emphasis on

the four learning orientations: Concrete Experience (CE), Reflective Observation (RO), Abstract

Conceptualization (AC), and Active Experimentation (AE), and two combination scores that measure

an individual’s preference for abstractness over concreteness (AC-CE) and action over reflection (AE-


Statistical analyses

Statistical analyses were performed using SPSS (version 17). Independent Sample t Test and

Pearson correlation were initially used to find out if any differences between learning style in different

specializations are.

Results and discussions

Table 1 shows the minimum and maximum values for every item and mean and standard deviation.

The lowest score was 12 for learning style and the highest was 35. We can see that there is a higher

preference for AE over RO in processing knowledge and for CE over AC in perceiving knowledge. For

all group when plotted on the Kolb’s learning style circle the average score of the AC-CE and the AE-

RO dimensions, it shows that the most preferred learning style being Assimilators with 41.0%.

Table 1 -
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Table 2 -
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The correlation from the Table 2 shows that the AC scale was negatively medium correlated with

CE scale at a significant level, as was between AE scale and RO scale. The dimensions AC-CE and

AE-RO are two bipolar dimensions with a negatively lower correlation. At the level of cross

dimensional scales (CE/RO, CE/AC, CE/AE, AC/AE, RO/AE) were not obtained higher correlations as

the within-dimensional scales.

Table 3shows the results of learning style for two specializations: Medicine with General Medicine

(GM) and General Nurse (GN) and Physical Education (PE) with Kinetotherapy and Sports

Traumatology (KST) and Kinetotherapy and Special Motricity (KSM). Between groups from medicine

specialization obtained no statistical differences, but between groups from PE obtained differences for

AC and AC-CE dimensions.

Table 3 -
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After plotted on the Kolb’s learning style circle the average score of the AC-CE and the AE-RO

dimensions, we obtained the Table 4 who shows the percent of learning style for all four

specializations, and we can categorize as assimilator the majority of subjects. The GN group obtained

the highest score from assimilators. Assimilators possess the dominant learning abilities of AC and RO

(Kolb, 1981). The results it is similar with Borracci & Arribalzaga (2015) where the learning style were

assimilator in 60.3% of cases, accommodator 6.9%, convergent 6.0% and undefined in 12,1%.

Table 4 -
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The Assimilator learning style includes abstract conceptualization and reflective observation.

Individuals bearing the characteristics of this type of learning are capable of grasping a large scale of

information scattered over a wide discipline and convert it to a logical whole. Instead of dealing with

other individuals, they prefer to deal with abstract concepts and issues. They generally focus on the

logical validity of theories instead of their applicability. It is stated that the characteristics of these

individuals could be developed through conducting research on the organization of information,

establishing conceptual models, testing and confronting the ideas and theories, designing tests,

conducting quantitative data analysis (Ugur et al., 2009; Kolb & Kolb, 2005). This study is useful to do

some changes in medical and PE education, where teachers to use different type of learning methods,

as interactive, problem-based or student-centred learning (Samarakoon et. al, 2013; Coker, 1996).


The knowledge of learning styles can be useful to both teachers and students, where teachers can

adapt pedagogy to correlate with learning styles of students. Our aim was to explore learning style in

order to suggest academic performance from students by adopting the proper style in the teachers

teaching programme, influenced by learning abilities.

In our study, statistical differences between MG and MN not observed. Only for PE specialization

found statistical differences in Ac and AC-CE dimensions.All groups were characterized as assimilator

and General Nurse Specialisation obtained the highest score from assimilators.


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