Learning Styles of Medical Students: A Systematic Review


1 MSc of Midwifery, Shiraz University of Medical Science, Shiraz, Iran.

2 Department of Midwifery, Nursing Research Center, Kerman University of Medical Sciences, Kerman, Iran.

3 Nursing Research Center, Kerman University of Medical Sciences, Kerman, Iran.

4 Student Research Committee, Kerman University of Medical Sciences, Kerman, Iran.

5 Department of Midwifery, Nursing and Midwifery School, Zahedan University of Medical Sciences, Zahedan, Iran.

6 Pediatric Nephrologist, Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Nephrology, Dr. Sheikh Hospital, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran.



Background: Knowledge of the learning style of students allows educational methods to be adapted with their learning style and leads to higher educational efficiency. The present study reviews and compares published articles on the learning styles of medical students worldwide using the VARK or Kolb’s questionnaires.
Materials and Methods: In this systematic review, a systemic search of online databases (Medline, EMBASE, Scopus, Web of Science, Cochrane Library, CIVILICA, and Google Scholar search engine) was conducted for related studies using VARK or Kolb inventories and related Mesh keywords with no time limit up to December 2021. Two reviewers evaluated the quality of eligible studies and carried out the selection procedure.
Results: A total of 34 studies from 14 countries assessing the learning style of 6,161 medical students were included. There was a variation in learning style preference among preclinical and clinical students based on gender and educational levels (P<0.05). Based on Kolb’s learning style inventory (874/6,161), a majority of students had the accommodator learning style (54.6%), while convergers (52%), assimilators (47%), and divergers (19.7%) were fewer. Based on the VARK inventory, the students’ preference towards multimodal learning style (bimodal) across worldwide studies ranged from 13.2% (Saudi Arabia) to 87% (Iran), with 70% being kinesthetic. Among the unimodal learning preferences, kinesthetic (69.2%), and auditory (55.9%) were the most preferred.
Conclusion: Medical students have different learning styles, and faculty members must pay attention to this issue and use different and innovative teaching methods.