ABSTRACT: A cross-sectional study of learning styles among continuing medical education participants.
PURPOSE:Experiential learning has been suggested as a framework for planning continuing medical education (CME). We aimed to (1) determine participants’ learning styles at traditional CME courses and (2) explore associations between learning styles and participant characteristics.MATERIALS AND METHODS:Cross-sectional study of all participants (n = 393) at two Mayo Clinic CME courses who completed the Kolb Learning Style Inventory and provided demographic data.RESULTS:A total of 393 participants returned 241 surveys (response rate, 61.3%). Among the 143 participants (36.4%) who supplied complete demographic and Kolb data, Kolb learning styles included diverging (45; 31.5%), assimilating (56; 39.2%), converging (8; 5.6%), and accommodating (34; 23.8%). Associations existed between learning style and gender (p = 0.02). For most men, learning styles were diverging (23 of 63; 36.5%) and assimilating (30 of 63; 47.6%); for most women, diverging (22 of 80; 27.5%), assimilating (26 of 80; 32.5%), and accommodating (26 of 80; 32.5%).CONCLUSIONS:Internal medicine and psychiatry CME participants had diverse learning styles. Female participants had more variation in their learning styles than men. Teaching techniques must vary to appeal to all learners. The experiential learning theory sequentially moves a learner from Why? to What? to How? to If? to accommodate learning styles.