Learning styles of first year occupational therapy students at a University in South Africa

Elsje Magdalena Rudman, Marianne de Beer, Steve Olorundju



Introduction: Occupational therapists by the very nature of their scope of practice have to apply an evolving broad spectrum of knowledge and skills to be able to fulfil their various roles as therapists.  In order to understand how occupational therapy students learn, learning style studies have been conducted in various countries.  Due to differing terminology used by the various measurement instruments, it is difficult to compare findings to allow for generalisation of the results.  The aim of this study was to identify the learning style profiles of first year occupational therapy students at a university in South Africa.  These profiles are used to broaden their self-knowledge in order to become socially and professionally well-adjusted therapists that take responsibility for their own continual learning. 

Method: A descriptive study to determine a learning style profile by means of the instrument known as the Felder-Soloman Index of Learning Styles was undertaken.  A convenience sample of 114 first year occupational therapy students between 2009 and 2011 was used.

Findings: Results indicated sensing, visual, active and sequential learning styles as the most representative learning styles.  The active learning style being the most dominant. 

Conclusion: Occupational therapy students should be encouraged and assisted to determine their own learning styles.  Understanding their own learning style profiles may equip students better to fulfil the need to become lifelong learners.  Further studies may identify possible changes to this learning style profile due to the changing demographics of occupational therapy students

Key words: Learning styles, occupational therapy students, teaching and learning

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ISSN 0038-2337 (print), ISSN 2310-3833 (online)

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