2014 | 4 | 1 | 172-178
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Learning styles and Locus of control in undergraduate medical, nursing and physiotherapy students: a comparative study

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Introduction: Locus of control is a personality variable which influences expectancies that people have in relation to everyday outcomes. The orientation on the Locus of control can be internal or external. People with internal orientation on locus of control attribute outcomes to their own control whereas those with external orientation tend to blame others for what happens to them. Internal orientation on locus of control has been found to correlate with attainment and general student satisfaction. Locus of control has been explored in health care related disciplines as well as in relation to learning characteristics, education in general and academic performance in particular. Purpose: To explore potential relationship between learning styles and Locus of control. To examine possible differences, in the learning styles and Locus of control orientation between Medical, Nursing and Physiotherapy undergraduate students. Materials and methods: A cross – sectional survey of undergraduate medical, physiotherapy and nursing students was conducted, at an English London university. The Learning Styles Inventory and Locus of Control Internal External Scale were administered to a purposive sample of students in their first year of study (n = 379). Results: The BSc Nursing students had the highest Locus of Control score (mean = 12.43, SD 4.164) and medical students the lowest (mean = 10.32, SD 4.034). Students who were carers had a lower mean Locus of Control score of 10.65, SD 3.713 as compared with students who were not carers, Locus of Control = 12.39, SD 4.108. Linear regressions showed statistical significance of different Kolb’s learning styles on the Locus of Control. KOLB-Abstract Conceptualisation (AC) had a statistically significant impact on Locus of Control (p=0.022). The dominant learning style of the nursing students in this study was assimilating (35%) and accommodating (26%). Conclusions: The findings from this study demonstrate that perhaps learning styles are not necessarily profession specific and that maybe the nursing students in this sample used more balancing styles which were influenced by the teaching methods and their curriculum. The implications for future research and educators are also discussed.
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