A longitudinal study in learning preferences and academic performance in first year medical school

Yenya Hu, Hong Gao, Marcia M. Wofford, Claudio Violato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


This is a longitudinal study of first year medical students that investigates the relationship between the pattern change of the learning preferences and academic performance. Using the visual, auditory, reading-writing, and kinesthetic inventory at the beginning of the first and second year for the same class, it was found that within the first year, 36% of the class remained unimodal (single) modality learners (SS), 14% changed from unimodal to multimodality learners (SM), 27% changed from multimodality to unimodal modality learners (MS) and 21% remained as multimodality learners (MM). Among the academic performance through subsequent didactic blocks from Clinical Anatomy, Cell and Subcellular Processes to Medical Neuroscience during first year, the SM group made more significant improvement compared to the SS group. Semi-structured interview results from the SM group showed that students made this transition between the Clinical Anatomy course and the middle of the Medical Neuroscience course, in an effort to improve their performance. This study suggests that the transition from unimodal to multimodality learning among academically struggling students improved their academic performance in the first year of medical school. Therefore, this may be considered as part of academic advising tools for struggling students to improve their academic performances. Anat Sci Educ 11: 488–495.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)488-495
Number of pages8
JournalAnatomical sciences education
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 American Association of Anatomists


  • academic performance
  • academically struggling students
  • cell biology education
  • gross anatomy education
  • learning preference
  • longitudinal assessment
  • medical education
  • neuroanatomy education


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