Assessment of learning styles of undergraduate medical students using the VARK questionnaire and the influence of sex and academic performance

Adv Physiol Educ. 2014 Sep;38(3):216-20. doi: 10.1152/advan.00024.2014.


While there are several tools to study learning styles of students, the visual-aural-read/write-kinesthetic (VARK) questionnaire is a simple, freely available, easy to administer tool that encourages students to describe their behavior in a manner they can identify with and accept. The aim is to understand the preferred sensory modality (or modalities) of students for learning. Teachers can use this knowledge to facilitate student learning. Moreover, students themselves can use this knowledge to change their learning habits. Five hundred undergraduate students belonging to two consecutive batches in their second year of undergraduate medical training were invited to participate in the exercise. Consenting students (415 students, 83%) were administered a printed form of version 7.0 of the VARK questionnaire. Besides the questionnaire, we also collected demographic data, academic performance data (marks obtained in 10th and 12th grades and last university examination), and self-perceived learning style preferences. The majority of students in our study had multiple learning preferences (68.7%). The predominant sensory modality of learning was aural (45.5%) and kinesthetic (33.1%). The learning style preference was not influenced by either sex or previous academic performance. Although we use a combination of teaching methods, there has not been an active effort to determine whether these adequately address the different types of learners. We hope these data will help us better our course contents and make learning a more fruitful experience.

Keywords: academic performance; learning style; sex; visual-aural-read/write-kinesthetic.

MeSH terms

  • Educational Status*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Learning*
  • Male
  • Students, Medical*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires