Home' Australian Pharmacist : Australian Pharmacist July 2013 Contents 54
Australian Pharmacist July 2013 I ©Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Ltd.
1. Which of the following statements
regarding learning styles is
a) A learning style is a preference or
description of a process.
b) Learning styles have been considered
useful in developing learning and
professional development plans.
c) Learning style models can be
divided into three areas: theoretical,
pedagogical (educational) and
d) All of the above are correct.
2. In Dunn and Dunn’s five dimensions
of learning style which ONE of the
following is NOT included?
a) Environment and climate.
3. Which ONE of the following
statements regarding learning
styles is CORRECT?
a) Visual learners learn well using glasses.
b) Aural learners learn best from lectures
and talking things though.
c) Read/write learners are generally more
d) All of the above are correct.
4. Which of the following statements is
a) Aural learners often problem solve
b) Kinaesthetic learners find it hard to sit
c) Adults often learn best in real or
d) VARK preferences should not be
confused with strengths and ability.
SUPPORTING PHARMACY PRACTICE
Application for pharmacists
Knowledge of learning styles can be
used to increase one’s self awareness of
strengths and weaknesses as learners.2
Whilst arguments for and against the
effectiveness of knowing one’s learning
style exists, it is a good starting point
to reflect on how and when one learns,
and provides a platform to develop
strategies for professional learning plans.3
Furthermore, knowledge of learning
styles can also be useful to preceptors and
educators, allowing them to tailor teaching
to correlate with students’ learning styles.8
A practical approach for pharmacists
would be to:
1. Complete the VARK questionnaire to
establish learning preferences. This
could be done individually or extended
within the workplace to give managers a
sense of employee learning styles.9
2. Reflect and identify most effective
learning techniques. The critical step
to ensure knowing one’s learning
preference is useful is to reflect.
Reflect and identify techniques,
modes and methods of learning and/
or teaching that best suit identified
personal learning preferences and
those of work colleagues or students
3. Establish professional development
and learning plans. Once a list of
learning activities aligned with learning
preferences is established, one can
begin setting goals, prioritising tasks,
creating action plans and timelines.12–14
about a two-fold change. First of all, his
learning preferences could have changed,
explaining why his university learning
techniques are not effective for him now.
Anecdotal evidence exists to say that
individuals change their learning preferences
over time through exposure to travel, work
and general life experiences.5 Secondly, as
Liam has matured he may have taken on
a more generalised adult way of learning.
Adults look deeper into why they need to
learn something and do not tend to retain
information or learn if there doesn’t seem to
be a benefit for them in doing so.11 They are
life-centred in their orientation to learning.11
Consequently, adults often learn best in real
or simulated scenarios where a connection to
real life and hence relevance is seen.11
Knowing this, Liam decides to build
strategies for a new professional
development plan. He works with his mentor
to look at learning activities that may be
more effective given his learning preference.
He creates a list which includes listening to
online lectures and booking into professional
development lectures which will align with
his preference for listening. Furthermore, the
latter will provide him with group discussions
in line with his aural preference. He will
focus on the learning experiences available
at work. ‘Hands-on’ case studies should
satisfy his preference as both an adult and
kinaesthetic learner. He can work with his
pharmacist colleagues and maximise the
opportunities to learn via demonstrations,
simulations and real life case studies in
Liam thanks his mentor and is ready to move
1. Clifford M. How to realise your learning potential. Intheblack
2. Coffield F, Moseley D, Hall E, et al. Should we be using learning
styles? What research has to say to practice. London: Learning
and Skills Research Centre; 2004.
3. Fleming N, Baume D. Learning styles again: VARKing up the
right tree! Educational Developments 2006;7(4):4.
4. Dunn R, Dunn K. Dunn and Dunn – School based learning
styles. 6 May 2013. At: http://wps.prenhall.com/wps/media/
5. Fleming N. VARK – A guide to learning styles, FAQs. 2012. At:
6. Drago WA, Wagner RJ. VARK preferred learning styles
and online education. Management Research News
7. Fleming N. VARK – A guide to learning styles: The VARK
modalities. 2012. At: www.vark-learn.com/english/page.
8. Samarakoon L, Fernando T, Rodrigo C. Learning styles and
approaches to learning among medical undergraduates and
postgraduates. BMC Med Educ 2013;13(1):1–6 .
9. Fleming N. VARK – A guide to learning styles: Using VARK. 2012.
10. Fleming N. VARK – A guide to learning styles: The VARK
questionnaire. 2012. At: www.vark-learn.com/english/page.
11. Kistler M. Learners: considerations for education and training.
Techniques Feb 2011:29–30 .
12. Flanagan N, Finger J. The Management Bible. Toowong QLD:
Plum Press; 2003.
13. Carlopio J, Andrewartha G, Armstrong H. Developing
management skills: A comprehensive guide for leaders.
Sydney: Prentice Hall; 2005.
14. Robbins S, Millett B, Cacioppe R, et al. Organisational behaviour.
3rd edn. Sydney: Prentice Hall; 2001.
Learners are empowered by
knowing their learning style/s
in order to identify techniques
of learning best suited to their
individual styles, resulting in greater
professional development outcomes
Whilst VARK provides only a preference
within a more complex learning style
it is a great place to start in bringing
about improvements in professional
development and learning.5
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