Predominant learning styles among pharmacy students at the Federal University of Paraná, Brazil

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Alexandra I. Czepula
Wallace E. Bottacin
Edson Hipólito Jr.
Deise R. Baptista
Roberto Pontarolo
Cassyano J. Correr


Students, Pharmacy, Education, Learning, Brazil


Background: Learning styles are cognitive, emotional, and physiological traits, as well as indicators of how learners perceive, interact, and respond to their learning environments. According to Honey-Mumford, learning styles are classified as active, reflexive, theoretical, and pragmatic.

Objective: The purpose of this study was to identify the predominant learning styles among pharmacy students at the Federal University of Paraná, Brazil.

Methods: An observational, cross-sectional, and descriptive study was conducted using the Honey-Alonso Learning Style Questionnaire. Students in the Bachelor of Pharmacy program were invited to participate in this study. The questionnaire comprised 80 randomized questions, 20 for each of the four learning styles. The maximum possible score was 20 points for each learning style, and cumulative scores indicated the predominant learning styles among the participants. Honey-Mumford (1986) proposed five preference levels for each style (very low, low, moderate, high, and very high), called a general interpretation scale, to avoid student identification with one learning style and ignoring the characteristics of the other styles. Statistical analysis was performed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) version 20.0.

Results: This study included 297 students (70% of all pharmacy students at the time) with a median age of 21 years old. Women comprised 77.1% of participants. The predominant style among pharmacy students at the Federal University of Paraná was the pragmatist, with a median of 14 (high preference). The pragmatist style prevails in people who are able to discover techniques related to their daily learning because such people are curious to discover new strategies and attempt to verify whether the strategies are efficient and valid. Because these people are direct and objective in their actions, pragmatists prefer to focus on practical issues that are validated and on problem situations. There was no statistically significant difference between genders with regard to learning styles.

Conclusion: The pragmatist style is the prevailing style among pharmacy students at the Federal University of Paraná. Although students may have a learning preference that preference is not the only manner in which students can learn, neither their preference is the only manner in which students can be taught. Awareness of students’ learning styles can be used to adapt the methodology used by teachers to render the teaching-learning process effective and long lasting. The content taught to students should be presented in different manners because varying teaching methods can develop learning skills in students.

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