The relationship between learning styles, stages of self-direction in learning and academic performance in a case-based nursing program.
The Institutes of Nursing in the United Arab Emirates adopted a new approach for educating and training the Diploma Nursing students in 1997. This approach emphasized the use of case-based learning, which was characterized by self-directed and cooperative learning. As the students were experiencing changes in the educational setting and teaching practices it was important to determine the impact of the teaching and learning approaches on students' learning, and to describe suggestions needed for improvement. The purposes of this study were to determine the learning styles and stages of self-direction in learning for students at Abu Dhabi Institute of Nursing, and to investigate whether there was a relationship between learning style, stage of self-direction and academic performance in courses taught by the case-based method. This study was guided by Kolb's theory of Experiential Learning, and Grow's theory of the Staged Self-Directed Learning Model. Kolb's learning style inventory and a self designed tool to measure stages of self-direction were administered to 186 students, who agreed to participate in the study. The design was a descriptive correlational one, and data was analyzed by descriptive, correlation, and inferential statistics methods. The assimilator learning style was the most predominant learning style (35.5%) followed by the converger (29.6%). Accommodators and divergers had equal percentage (17%) for each. As for the stages in self-direction, most of the students rated themselves in the moderate stages of self-direction (67.2%), however, Diploma III had the higest percentage of high self-directed learners (57%). Significant relationship was found between learning styles and academic performance, where convergers and divergers scored higher than assimilators and accommodators. Also a significant relationship was found between the stage of self-direction in learning and academic performance, where students in higher stages of self-direction had higher mean scores compared to students in low and moderate stages of self-direction.