Instructional methods and cognitive and learning styles in web-based learning: report of two randomised trials
Article first published online: 23 AUG 2007
Volume 41, Issue 9, pages 897–905, September 2007
How to Cite
Cook, D. A., Gelula, M. H., Dupras, D. M. and Schwartz, A. (2007), Instructional methods and cognitive and learning styles in web-based learning: report of two randomised trials. Medical Education, 41: 897–905. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2923.2007.02822.x
- Issue published online: 23 AUG 2007
- Article first published online: 23 AUG 2007
- Received 21 August 2006; editorial comments to authors 21 November 2006, 25 January 2007; accepted for publication 20 February 2007
- multicentre study [publication type];
- randomised controlled trial [publication type];
- *education, distance;
- crossover studies;
- clinical competence/*standards;
- education, medical/*methods;
- United States
Context Adapting web-based (WB) instruction to learners' individual differences may enhance learning.
Objectives This study aimed to investigate aptitude–treatment interactions between learning and cognitive styles and WB instructional methods.
Methods We carried out a factorial, randomised, controlled, crossover, post-test-only trial involving 89 internal medicine residents, family practice residents and medical students at 2 US medical schools. Parallel versions of a WB course in complementary medicine used either active or reflective questions and different end-of-module review activities (‘create and study a summary table’ or ‘study an instructor-created table’). Participants were matched or mismatched to question type based on active or reflective learning style. Participants used each review activity for 1 course module (crossover design). Outcome measurements included the Index of Learning Styles, the Cognitive Styles Analysis test, knowledge post-test, course rating and preference.
Results Post-test scores were similar for matched (mean ± standard error of the mean 77.4 ± 1.7) and mismatched (76.9 ± 1.7) learners (95% confidence interval [CI] for difference − 4.3 to 5.2l, P = 0.84), as were course ratings (P = 0.16). Post-test scores did not differ between active-type questions (77.1 ± 2.1) and reflective-type questions (77.2 ± 1.4; P = 0.97). Post-test scores correlated with course ratings (r = 0.45). There was no difference in post-test subscores for modules completed using the ‘construct table’ format (78.1 ± 1.4) or the ‘table provided’ format (76.1 ± 1.4; CI − 1.1 to 5.0, P = 0.21), and wholist and analytic styles had no interaction (P = 0.75) or main effect (P = 0.18). There was no association between activity preference and wholist or analytic scores (P = 0.37).
Conclusions Cognitive and learning styles had no apparent influence on learning outcomes. There were no differences in outcome between these instructional methods.