Learning styles may be classified according to the sensory modality that one most prefers to use when internalizing information. The four major sensory modalities are visual, aural or auditory, read/write, and kinesthetic. The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between preferred learning style, gender, and course scores in an undergraduate physiology class. Students from the fall 2008 and spring 2009 Applied Human Physiology courses completed an online questionnaire in which they were asked to both provide descriptive information about themselves (e.g., gender and major) and self-assess their preferred sensory modality. A total of 901 students completed the questionnaire, 75% of which were female and 25% were male. The results from a {chi}2-analysis ({chi}2 = 9.59, P < 0.05) indicated that females and males had significantly different learning style preferences. Females most preferred visual learning (46%) followed by aural (27%), read/write (23%), and kinesthetic (4%). Males most preferred visual learning (49%) followed by read/write (29%), aural (17%), and kinesthetic (5%). There was also a significant relationship (P < 0.05 by ANOVA) between preferred sensory modality and course scores. The mean overall course scores were 83.53 ± 8.25, 85.58 ± 8.18, 84.98 ± 7.78, and 76.70 ± 7.92 for those that preferred visual, aural, read/write, and kinesthetic modalities, respectively. These results support the findings of Wehrwein et al. (18): that female and male physiology students have different sensory modality preferences and that they provide the first step in determining if sensory modality preferences impact final course scores.


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