The aim of this study was to investigate the learning style preferences of a group of first-year dental students and their relation to gender and past academic performance. A total of 113 first-year dental students (forty-two female, seventy-one male) at King Saud University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, participated. The Visual, Aural, Read-write, and Kinesthetic (VARK) questionnaire was used to determine the students' preferred mode of learning. This sixteen-item questionnaire defines preference of learning based on the sensory modalities: visual, aural, reading/writing, and kinesthetic. More than half (59 percent) of the students were found to have multimodal learning preferences. The most common single learning preferences were aural (20 percent) followed by kinesthetic (15.2 percent). Gender differences were not statistically significant. However, a statistically significant difference was found in the mean values of GPA in relation to the students' learning style preferences (p=0.019). Students with a single learning style preference had a lower mean GPA than those with multiple (quad-modal) learning style preferences. For effective instruction, dental educators need to broaden their range of presentation styles to help create more positive and effective learning environments for all students.
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