Background and purpose: Learning outcomes may improve in graduate healthcare students when attention is given to individual learning styles. Interactive multimedia is one tool shown to increase success in meeting the needs of diverse learners. The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of learning style and type of instruction on physical therapy students' cognitive and psychomotor performance.
Subjects: Participants were obtained by a sample of convenience with students recruited from two physical therapy programs. Twenty-seven students volunteered to participate from Program 1. Twenty-three students volunteered to participate from Program 2.
Methods: Gregorc learning styles were identified through completion of the Gregorc Style Delineator. Students were randomly assigned to one of two instructional strategies: 1) instructional CD or 2) live demonstration.
Results: Differences in cognitive or psychomotor performance following instructional multimedia based on learning style were not demonstrated in this study. Written examination scores improved with both instructional strategies demonstrating no differences between the strategies. Practical examination ankle scores were significantly higher in participants receiving CD instruction than in participants receiving live presentation. Learning style did not significantly affect this improvement. Program 2 performed significantly better on written knee and practical knee and ankle examinations.
Discussion and conclusion: Learning style had no significant effect on student performance following instruction in clinical skills via interactive multimedia. Future research may include additional measurement instruments assessing other models of learning styles and possible interaction of learning style and instructional strategy on students over longer periods of time, such as a semester or an entire curriculum.