Incoming students who entered medical school in three academic years, from September 2015 (academic year of 2015) to September 2017 (academic year of 2017), were enrolled. The structured questionnaire for learning style was distributed in the curriculum introduction and orientation in the first week of the academic year. The results were released to the students as a reference for conducting personal study plans for their individual learning style.
The questionnaire used to analyze learning styles was the Memletic Learning Style Inventory (MLSI), elaborated by Sean Whiteley. Seven different learning styles were recognized by the inventory, in accordance with the seven types of intelligence indicated by Gardner. The seven types of intelligence include verbal (linguistic), visual, aural, logical, physical, solitary and social (i.e., involving relationships with other learners). With different learning styles, individuals may have different learning characteristics, described as follows:
- Visual (spatial): These learners prefer using pictures, imageries, and spatial perceptions.
- Aural (auditory-musical): These learners favor using sounds and music.
- Verbal (linguistic): These learners prefer using words through speaking and writing.
- Physical (kinesthetic): These learners favor using their body, hands, and tactile sense.
- Logical (mathematical): These learners prefer using logic, reasoning, and systems.
- Social (interpersonal): These learners favor learning in groups or with other people.
- Solitary (intrapersonal): These learners prefer to work alone and to be self-taught.
The questionnaire contained 70 questions, and each learning style was assessed by 10 questions. The outcome of a typical learning styles inventory is normally one dominating learning style, but in some cases, the outcome would yield two or three learning styles. The outcome provided information about the extent to which each style is used more often by a particular learner.
Taiwan Medical Education System
In Taiwan, there are presently three ways in which medical students are recruited: (1) the national college entrance examination, (2) personal application, and (3) recommendations made by senior high schools (Stars Program). Medical schools previously recruited students only through the national college entrance examination, which does not assess personality or medical professionalism. The personal application process was introduced in 1998 and was expanded in 2000, and it provides all high school students with an opportunity to apply to their preferred colleges or departments. Currently, approximately 16-52% of medical students are selected through the application process. The results of the application process are based on the applicants’ results on the General Scholastic Ability Test (GSAT) held in January, their portfolio and their academic performance review.
After students receive their GSAT results, they must decide whether they meet the entrance criteria of the schools in which they are interested. If a student is qualified, the medical school will invite the student to participate in the second stage of the screening process. During this stage, students may be asked to take additional tests, prepare a portfolio, and take part in interviews.
Depending on the method of enrollment used, the students' characteristics will differ in some areas. After admission to medical school, medical students must complete training in the seven-year medical education program, including two years of premedical courses, two years of clinical courses, and three years of clerkship and internship. Students with different characteristics could learn differently in the future.
The details of and criteria for portfolio reviews and interviews were set up independently by each school.
In the College of Medicine of National Cheng Kung University, the application process is divided into three stages: Introduction, Group Dynamic Interview (GDI), and Multiple Mini-Interview (MMI). (Figure 3) The GDI is a group interview process. Each group included 7-8 candidates. During the interview process, candidates were given a theme that they all had to agree upon within a limited time frame. These tests were used to assess candidates’ social abilities, such as reasoning, leadership, sociability, extraversion, and verbal communication.
The MMI consists of a series of short interview stations in which all candidates respond to the same questions, and interviewers receive background information a priori. The tests were used to assess candidates’ resilience, problem solving, initiative, altruism, empathy, etc. With the combination of the GDI and the MMI, admissions committees have a great deal of flexibility in the interview protocol and dilute the effects of chance and examiner bias.
Categorical variables, including sex and learning styles, were compared with the chi-square test. Continuous variables were compared using the Mann-Whitney test. Latent class analysis (LCA) was applied for measuring categorical latent variables based on a set of observed categorical variables. The LCA attempted to detect the presence of latent classes, creating patterns of association in the symptoms. The analysis can also be used to classify cases according to their maximum likelihood class membership. SAS 9.4 software was used for statistical analysis. A p-value of <0.05 was considered statistically significant.