Why Every Nursing Student Should Know Their Learning Style

No two students are the same. Everyone retains and absorbs information in a completely different way.What works for you may not work for other people, and vice versa. For the nursing student who wants to maximize their time and potential, discovering your nurse student learning style is paramount. 

Why learning styles matter for nurses

Learning is a lifelong process. This goes for every walk of life, but nurses in particular are constantly studying.

To even become a nurse, you have to pass extremely difficult and technical university programs. After you graduate, you need to stay up-to-date with your licensure renewal requirements by completing some Continuing Education Units (CEUs) and classes, within the licensure period.

Even if your state has no CEU requirements, the industry is constantly changing. Nurses have to study and learn constantly if they want to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and developments in best nursing practices.

According to studies, nurses who find their preferred learning styles are more likely to enjoy “job satisfaction and years of experience.” 

How many learning styles are there?

Nurses can pick from countless amount of learning approaches. Luckily, most of them can be grouped into a handful of broadly-encompassing styles. 

The VARK model refers to a related set of theories. Created and published by Neil Flemming in 1987, this is one of the more prominent frameworks you will find for answering nursing student questions. 

Fleming posits that the learning styles can be separated into four main umbrellas: 

(V)isual, (A)uditory, (R)eading/Writing, (K)inesthetic

Visual: Some learners absorb information best with their eyes. If you fall under this category, you probably learn better with the aid of flashcards, images, diagrams, maps and other kinds of visual aid. 

Auditory: Other learners thrive in settings where they can speak and listen. As you might expect, these students excel in group discussions (especially in classes that follow the Socratic Method.) Outside of the classroom, listening to recordings and repeating information verbally are potent ways to retain information. 

Reading/writing: On the flip side, some learners need to take in information in text form. You can find these learners writing down notes during lectures or highlighting important passages in their textbooks. Some students may go the extra mile by rewriting their notes after class, to better retain everything they just learned. 

Kinesthetic: When you learn kinesthetically, you are physically interacting with the learning material. For nursing lessons, clinical rotations or laboratory trials would fall under this category. 

 In 2015, a study was conducted on multiple examples of nursing student learning outcomes. No learning preference was strictly better than the other. Instead, it was recommended that teachers “tailor their approach” to the individual student’s preferences. 

Someone who is an auditory learner is no better or worse than a kinesthetic learner. What matters the most is what works for you. 

Finding the style that suits you:

The VARK method is the perfect starting point, but other frameworks are worth considering. Honey and Mumford, for instance, organize learners into Activist, Reflector, Theorist, and Pragmatist. 

On a more simple level, you want to try and find your preferred learning environment. Some people study better with groups of people, while others prefer group learning sessions.

Though everyone has their preferences, there is value in trying every method to see what sticks. Eventually, you will find the best way to meet learning goals for nursing students.