1 Faculty of Medicine, SEGi University, Malaysia

2 School of Graduate studies, Asia e University, Malaysia

3 Faculty of Medicine, SEGi University, Malaysia; Faculty of Medicine, MAHSA University, Malaysia


Introduction: The learner-centred approach in medical and healthsciences education makes the study of learning preferences relevant andimportant. This study aimed to investigate the interdisciplinary, interinstitutional, gender and racial differences in the preferred learningstyles among Malaysian medical and health sciences students in threeMalaysian universities, namely SEGi University (SEGi), University ofMalaya (UM) and Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR). It alsoinvestigated the differences in the preferred learning styles of thesestudents between high achievers and non-high achievers.Methods: This cross-sectional study was carried out on medical andhealth sciences students from three Malaysian universities following theapproval of the Research and Ethics Committee, SEGi University. Purposive sampling was used and the preferred learning styles were assessed using the VARK questionnaire. The questionnaire was validated prior to its use. Three disciplines (medicine, pharmacy and dentistry) were chosen based on their entry criteria and some similarities in their course structure. The three participating universities were Malaysian universities with a home-grown undergraduate entry medical program and students from a diverse cultural and socioeconomic background. The data were analysed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) software, version 22. VARK subscale scores were expressed as mean±standard deviation. Comparisons of the means were carried out using t-test or ANOVA. A p value of <0.05 was considered as statistically significant, and <0.001 as highly significant.Results: Both statistically significant interdisciplinary and inter-institutional differences in learning preferences were observed. Out of the 337 students, a majority of the participants were unimodal learners (n=263, 78.04%). The most common type of learners was the reading/writing type (n=92, 27.30%) while the kinesthetic subscale (M=6.98, SD=2.85) had the highest mean score. Female students (M=6.86, SD=2.86) scored significantly higher than male students (M=6.08, SD=2.41; t(249), p=0.014) in the auditory subscale, whereas Chinese students (M=5.87, SD=2.65) scored significantly higher than Malay students (M=4.70, SD=2.87; p=0.04) in the visual subscale.However, the mean VARK subscale scores did not differ significantlybetween high achievers and non-high achievers (p>0.05).Conclusion: This study gives an insight into the learner characteristicsof more than one medical school in Malaysia. Such multi-institutionalstudies are lacking in the published literature and this study gives abetter representation of the current situation in the learning preferencesamong medical students in Malaysia.Keywords: Learning; Medical students; Health sciences