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Learning style impact on knowledge gains in human patient simulation



Human patient simulation (HPS) is a widely used method of teaching in nursing education. While it is believed that a student's learning style impacts knowledge gains in HPS, there is little evidence to support this. This study sought to determine the impact of learning style on knowledge gains after a heart failure (HF) simulation experience in pre-licensure nursing students.


A convenience sample of four cohorts of prelicensure nursing students (n=161) were recruited from three Baccalaureate Schools of Nursing at the same point in their curriculum (age 25.7±6.6 years; gender=85.5% female) and participated in HPS using a HF simulation on a high-fidelity manikin. Learning style was assessed by the Kolb Learning Style Inventory (LSI) and pre- and post-HPS knowledge measured by parallel, validated, knowledge tests. The LSI identifies 4 learning styles, (Assimilating Diverging, Accommodating, and Converging). In some cases, learners present a balanced learning profile-an emphasis of all four equally. Statistical analysis consisted of t-tests and ANOVA.


HF knowledge scores post-HPS compared to pre-HPS scores revealed a mean improvement of 7 points (p<0.001) showing evidence of learning. Within group score increases between the pre-test and post-test were seen for the Assimilating (66.68±20.87 to 83.35±12.59; p=0.07), Diverging (61.95±11.08 to 69.86±12.33; p<0.01) and balanced profiles (64.4±12.45 to 71.8±10.14; p<0.01), but not for Converging or Accommodating profiles (73% of sample). Post-hoc paired t-tests revealed a large effect size for the Assimilators (0.91) and moderate effect sizes for both the Divergers and balanced profiles (0.67 and 0.65, respectively).


These findings confirm that knowledge gains occur with HPS and provide evidence that HPS is an effective teaching methodology for nursing students identifying with most types of learning styles.

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