Get access

Beyond career choice: the role of learning style analysis in residency training


Dr J. D. Baker III, Education Division, Department of Anesthesiology, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina 29425, USA.


Summary. A recent article in this journal took an important step toward rethinking the utility of behavioural instruments designated as learning style tests (Jewett et al. 1987). The authors of that paper made much of a distinction between the terms ‘learning style’ and ‘learning preference’. However, the results of their study do not seem to substantiate a marked difference between the function of the Rczler Learning Preference Inventory (LPI) and Kolb's Learning Style Inventory (LSI) with which it was contrasted. The most important aspect of their paper was that it rescued the concept of learning style analysis from the arena of career choice prediction at the undergraduate level and applied these ideas to doctors who had already made their specialty selections and were actively engaged in residency training. Clinical instructors in teaching institutions have, for the most part, little or no formal background in educational principles. For these individuals, an easily comprehensible model of resident-instructor psychology can be very useful on a daily basis. This article reviews the authors' experience with the LSI and describes their utilization of Kolb's Experiential Learning Model in the areas of resident counselling and residency curriculum design. The results of two recent studies arc also presented in which learning style was examined as a predictor of success in residency, and teacher-resident learning style distributions were shown to exhibit parallel relationships at four different anaesthesiology residency training programmes.

Get access to the full text of this article