Utilizing the Kolb Learning Style Inventory to Identify Learning Styles of Diverse Nursing Students

Monday, 30 October 2017: 4:05 PM

Linda Eileen Wolf, PhD, MSN, BSN
David Foley, PhD
School of Nursing, Cleveland State University, Cleveland, OH, USA

Background: Schools of Nursing are admitting an increasing number of culturally and racially diverse students into their programs with each bringing unique learning styles. Dapremont (2014) found that Black nursing students prefer learning in peer study groups, using note cards, daily routine, and reading course content, while Li, Yu, Lui, Sheih, & Yang (2014) found that Taiwanese nursing students preferred direct experience, observation and practical application approach to learning. To support diverse students successfully, faculty need to incorporate various pedagogical methods to accommodate multiple learning styles of diverse student groups.

Purpose: The overall goal was to determine diverse students learning styles. The first step of this pilot study was to identify learning styles of sophomore generic and accelerated diverse nursing students enrolled in Theory and Professional Practice, a first semester nursing course.

Methods: The Kolb Learning Style Inventory™ and a demographic questionnaire were administered to a generic cohort and an accelerated BSN cohort during their first semester of the nursing program.

Participants were 143 sophomore level generic and accelerated BSN students enrolled in Theory and Professional Practice at a Midwestern urban university in an area with a high level of diversity. 116 participants were female (81.1%) and 27 (18.9%) were male. Eighty-seven (60.8%) were 18 years to 24 years in age and 53 (37.1%) were 25-44 years in age. 118 were White/Caucasian, 9 black/African American, 5 Hispanic, 7 Asian, an 3 Biracial, and 1 Native American.

 Evaluation findings: Of the nine most common learning styles identified by the Kolb Learning Style Inventory, the Reflecting style, characterized by the ability to connect “experience and ideas through sustained reflection” (Kolb Learning Style Inventory, 2013, p. 10) was predominate with 31 participants (21.6%). This was followed by the Balancing style, characterized by the “ability to adapt” (p. 13); Thinking style, characterized by the “capacity for disciplined involvement in abstract and logical reasoning” (p. 11); and Analyzing style, characterized by the “ability to integrate and systematize ideas through reflection” (p. 11 ) which were tied at 18 (12.5%) participants.

 Conclusions: Although the Reflective style emerged as the predominate learning style, the Balancing style, Thinking style, and Analyzing style were tied closely behind. According to Kolb (2013) Incorporating observation and reflection as teaching strategies benefit those students whose learning preference is identified as the Reflecting style. Students with this learning style have the ability to recognize the deeper meanings for truths and interactions as well as possessing the ability to move from the intuitive to the explicit. These students need to be encouraged to integrate creativity and sensitivity into their learning such as through case studies and reflective journals. The results of this pilot study indicate the need to integrate multiple teaching strategies to address the broad range of learning styles of diverse nursing students. Further study is needed due to the small sample size which precludes drawing conclusions on diverse nursing students.