The reflective process among undergraduate dental students: the impact of age, gender, learning styles, learning approaches and the dental environment
Aim: To investigate the effect of age, gender, socioeconomic status, academic achievement, learning styles, learning approaches, and the learning environment on the reflective process. Methods: All dental undergraduate students studying at King AbdulAziz University Faculty of Dentistry (KAUFD) agreed to participate on three occasions of approximately six month intervals between February 2008 and June 2009 (QMREC2007/67). Four previously validated structured questionnaires including demographic details were used to determine students’ learning style (Felder and Soloman, http://www.ncsu.edu/felder-public/ILSpage.html [ILS]), approach to learning and studying (Entwistle, http://www.ed.ac.uk/etl [ALSI]), reflection (Sobral, 2005 [RLS]) and perception of their educational environment as determined by the Dundee Ready Educational Environment Method (Roff et al. 2005, [DREEM]). Multiple linear regression was used to investigate the independent effects on the questionnaires. Results: A total of 624 students (F=347, M=277) were included in the analysis. ILS assessed the undergraduate learning styles: 20.7% active learners, 47.9% sensing, 68.2% visual and 18.1% sequential learners. Sudents adopted different approaches simultaneously. The mean overall DREEM score was (112.76, SD19.54) indicating a more positive view of their environment. Fifty eight percent were ample in their ability to reflect. Females, older students, and from higher socioeconomic background reflect more. In the final student learning model, reflection was positively associated with a deep approach, organised/effort approach, academic self perception and perception of learning, whilst a surface approach was negatively associated with reflection. Students with higher academic achievement were able to 3 reflect and adopt an organised/effort approach, whilst students with lower grades had low reflective scores and adopt a surface approach. Conclusion: KAUFD dental students demonstrate sensing and visual learning styles. An effective learning environment that facilitates reflection results in the development of self directed learners. Self directed students take control over their own learning and are able to employ strategies such as a deep and organised approach to studying that can influence and optimise their learning and academic performance.
AuthorsSindi, Amal M.
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