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Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Educational Administration and Leadership

First Advisor

Lynn Brailler

First Committee Member

Michael Elium

Second Committee Member

Cindy Lyons


This study is designed to gather information concerning a possible relationship between how dental students prefer to take in and communicate new information and how they prefer to be assessed. Though there are numerous references in the literature regarding the learning styles of students there are also references to the inaccuracy of such studies. Part of the problem is in the definition of what construes a particular learning style and how to match the outcomes of one study based on one set of criteria with another study based on a dissimilar set of guide lines. This study focuses on learning preferences that make up just a part of a learning style. To gather information two quantitative surveys were utilized that involved three class years of dental students attending the University of the Pacific Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry. Both surveys were designed to be voluntary and anonymous assuming that the results would be fewer but more accurate. The first survey (VARK Survey), based on the principles of the modes represented by VARK (Visual, Aural, Read-write, and Kinesthetic), gathered information regarding how dental students prefer to take in and give out information when learning is the goal. The second survey (Survey II) gathered information validating the results of the first survey along with information regarding how dental students prefer to be assessed. One hundred forty five students responded to the VARK Survey and one hundred students responded to the Survey II. Results of the VARK Survey indicated that dental students rely heavily on using a combination of modes, a category termed “multimodal.” Responses to singular VARK modes resulted in Kinesthetic followed by Read/write, Aural, and Visual. The preferred methods of assessment in descending order were: Multiple-Choice, Combination of Methods, Essay, Oral Exam, Fill-in-the-Blanks, and True/False. The majority of dental education is presenting information and assessing the results of the teaching. Teaching and assessing strategies should be formulated to achieve optimal results when educating students is the goal. Understanding the interconnection between learning preferences and assessment methods is critical when striving to achieve optimal results educating dental students.





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