Original Research

Kolb’s learning styles of optometry students at the University of the Free State, South Africa

Elzana Kempen, Sonet B. Kruger
African Vision and Eye Health | Vol 78, No 1 | a454 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/aveh.v78i1.454 | © 2019 Elzana Kempen; Sonet B. Kruger | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 18 April 2018 | Published: 09 January 2019

About the author(s)

Elzana Kempen, Department of Optometry, University of the Free State, South Africa
Sonet B. Kruger, Division Health Sciences Education, University of the Free State, South Africa


Background: The use of learning styles to guide an educational method is becoming increasingly important, with it contributing to the effectiveness of a learning environment. This study addresses the concept of learning styles with reference to students of the Department of Optometry at the University of the Free State, South Africa – a topic that previously has not received much attention.

Aim: The aim of this study was to identify the learning styles of optometry students as described by Kolb. Kolb’s Learning Style Inventory (LSI) was completed by the undergraduate students of the Optometry Department, in order to create a better understanding of how students perceive and process learning and to enhance the learning environment accordingly.

Setting: This study was conducted in the Optometry Department at the University of the Free State.

Methods: Undergraduate optometry students (N = 106) who were registered for the 2014 academic year and agreed to participate in the study completed Kolb’s LSI to determine their learning styles. Descriptive statistics for categorical data and medians and percentiles for numerical data were calculated.

Results: A response rate of 94.6% was achieved, with female students representing the majority (72.6%). The converger learning style was identified as the most preferred learning style among most students, followed by the assimilator, accommodator and diverger learning styles.

Conclusion: Knowledge of Kolb’s learning styles created a better understanding of how students learn, which will benefit the facilitator as well as the students. It is recommended that to enhance the learning environment, curriculum delivery and education methods, the learning styles of students should be kept in mind.


learning styles; educational method; optometry education; Kolb's Learning Style Inventory


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