Applying Learning Styles to Engage a Diversity of Learners and Behavioral Problems in Anatomy Education

  • Mark TerrellEmail author


The integration of learning styles helps anatomy educators meet the diverse needs of healthcare students who can later apply these learning styles to learn about and teach to diverse patients they encounter in the clinic. A learning style is a set of cognitive and psychosocial characteristics influencing how learners perceive, interact with, and respond to a learning environment. The study of learning styles uses two models of thought. The cognitive model examines how learners process information in the brain and extrapolates educational strategies to the classroom and includes Gardner’s multiple intelligences and Kolb’s experiential learning styles. The psychosocial model uses classroom observations of interactions between educators and learners to derive learning styles, including the VARK learning styles and the work of Grasha. Some learners exhibit problematic behaviors that prevent learning, requiring the educator to apply the principle of patient centeredness to address the behavioral deficiencies. Finally, six learning style principles specific for anatomy education are synthesized from the analysis of the aforementioned learning styles.


Learning Style Teaching Style Patient Centeredness Multiple Intelligence Unprofessional Behavior 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. 1.
    Felder RM, Brent R. Understanding student differences. J Eng Educ. 2005;94(1):57–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Curry L. Learning preferences in continuing medical education. Can Med Assoc J. 1981;124:535–6.PubMedCentralPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Cassidy S. Learning styles: an overview of theories, models, and measures. Educ Psychol. 2004;24(4):419–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Newble D, Entwistle N. Learning styles and approaches: implications for medical education. Med Educ. 1986;20(3):162–75.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Gardner H. Frames of mind: the theory of multiple intelligences. New York, NY: Basic Books; 1985.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Gardner H, Hatch T. Multiple intelligences go to school: educational implications of the theory of multiple intelligences. Educ Res. 1989;18:4–10.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Gardner H. The unschooled mind: how children think and how schools should teach. New York, NY: Basic Books; 2011.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Lazear D. Teaching for multiple intelligences. Fastback 342. Bloomington, IN: Phi Delta Kappan Educational Foundation (ED 356 227). 1992.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Kolb D. Experiential learning: experience as the source of learning and development. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall; 1984.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Svinicki M, Dixon N. The Kolb Model modified for classroom activities. Coll Teach. 1987;35(4):141–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Fleming N, Baume D. Learning styles again: VARKing up the right tree! Educ Dev. 2006;7(4):4–7.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Baykan Z, Naçar M. Learning styles of first-year medical students attending Erciyes University in Kayseri. Turkey Adv Physiol Educ. 2007;31(2):158–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Grasha A. Teaching with style: a practical guide to enhancing learning by understanding teaching and learning styles. Pittsburgh, PA: Pittsburgh Alliance Publishers; 1996.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Bell H. Can We Commit to Professionalism? Clin Surg Ophthalmol. 2007;25(6):4.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Diaz D, Cartnal R. Students’ learning styles in two classes: on-line distance learning and equivalent on-campus. Coll Teach. 1999;47(4):130–5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Romanelli F, Bird E, Ryan M. Learning styles: a review of theory, application, and best practices. Am J Pharm Educ. 2009;73(1):9.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Morrone A, Tarr T. Theoretical eclecticism in the college classroom. Innov Higher Educ. 2005;30(1):7–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Terrell M. Anatomy of learning: instructional design principles for the anatomical sciences. Anat Rec. 2006;289B:252–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Vaughn L, Baker R. Teaching in the medical setting: balancing teaching styles, learning styles and teaching methods. Med Teach. 2001;23(6):610–2.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Coffield F, Moseley D, Hall E, Ecclestone K. Learning styles and pedagogy in post-16 learning. A systematic and critical review. London: Learning and Skills Research Centre; 2009.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Lake Erie College of Osteopathic MedicineErieUSA

Personalised recommendations