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The impact of culture on the learning styles of occupational therapy students

Watson, J., Chapman, J., Adams, J. and Ummey Hamila, N. (2006) The impact of culture on the learning styles of occupational therapy students At 14th Congress of the World Federation of Occupational Therapists.

Record type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)


Learning styles are described as the preferred or characteristic manner in which an individual approaches tasks or learning situations (Cassidy 2004). This theoretical field originated in psychology in around the 1960s, although remains an area little researched in allied health profession education. Cultural awareness is becoming recognised as an essential characteristic of practicing therapists; while government & professional initiatives seek to expand the cultural diversity of the clinical workforce. Cultural factors are likely to impact on student preferences, behaviour, attitudes and interaction within a learning environment; yet there is disagreement in the literature regarding the extent to which culture influences learning styles.

This cross-sectional study utilised the Approaches to Study Inventory (ASI) (Entwistle et al 1979, Entwistle & Ramsden 1983) questionnaire to examine and compare the learning style preferences of occupational therapy (OT) students studying in the UK and Bangladesh. Statistical analysis of the data revealed a degree of variance in learning styles within both schools across their programmes of study. Significant differences between the two groups over a number of dimensions highlight a tendency for Bangladeshi students to display both the integrated characteristics of deep approaches to learning (p = 0.001); and at times less integrated step-wise approaches indicative of learning pathologies (p = 0.001).

The implications of the findings are discussed in relation to local issues of increasing cultural diversity within student cohorts; and global issues associated with the contributions of western therapists to the development and delivery of the educational programmes for OTs in non-industrialized nations.

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Published date: 28 July 2006
Additional Information: The information outlined in this presentation was further developed an subsequently published as: Watson J; Chapman J; Adams J; Ummey Hamila N (2006) Occupational Therapy Students’ Approaches to Learning: Considering the Impact of Culture. British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 69(12), p 548-555.
Venue - Dates: 14th Congress of the World Federation of Occupational Therapists, 2006-07-28
Keywords: approaches to learning, learning culture, occupational therapy education


Local EPrints ID: 55752
PURE UUID: 7d97aa93-f525-4e89-a393-98fd4849aa60
ORCID for J. Watson: ORCID iD

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Date deposited: 05 Aug 2008
Last modified: 17 Jul 2017 14:32

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Author: J. Watson ORCID iD
Author: J. Chapman
Author: J. Adams
Author: N. Ummey Hamila

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