The Importance of Identifying Learning Styles in Medical Education
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AbstractABSTRACT Learning is a complex construct that involves several factors, mainly the interaction between teachers and students in the process of teaching and learning. Understanding how students learn and which factors influence academic performance is essential information for lesson planning and evaluation, in addition to allowing a better use of students’ learning potential and outcomes. The ability to constructively modify one’s behavior depends on how well we combine our experiences, reflections, conceptualizations, and planning to make improvements. This seems particularly relevant in medical education, where students are expected to retain, recall, and apply vast amounts of information assimilated throughout their training period. Over the years, there has being a gradual shift in medical education from a passive learning approach to an active learning approach. To support the learning environment, educators need to be aware of the different learning styles of their students to effectively tailor instructional strategies and methods to cater to students’ learning needs. However, the space for reflection on the process of teaching is still incipient in higher-education institutions in Brazil. The present article proposes a critical review of the importance of identifying students’ learning styles in undergraduate medical education. Different models exist for assessing learning styles. Different styles can coexist in equilibrium (multimodal style) or predominate (unimodal style) in the same individual. Assessing students’ learning styles can be a useful tool in education, once it is possible to analyze with what kind of learning students can better develop themselves, improving their knowledge and influencing positively in the process of learning. Over the last century, medical education experienced challenges to improve the learning process and curricular reform. Also, this has resulted in crucial changes in the field of medical education, with a shift from a teacher centered and subject based teaching to the use of interactive, problem based, student centered learning.