Kwapis-Jaeger, Judy, and Margaret Coleman
Dental hygiene program curriculum requires students to grasp concepts and ideas, and to work with abstraction, symbols and theories. Grades, especially graduating GPA’s are one outcome measure of how successful the student is in completing this task. Does the learning style of the student increase their ability to successfully complete the program as measured by the graduating GPA? Does the dental hygiene curriculum tend to favor certain learning styles? All learning styles are found in all curricula but particular curricula attract certain personality types and thus certain learning styles. Are types that are most interested in dental hygiene also more likely to get better grades or do more academic types achieve at a higher level regardless of the curriculum? The purpose of this study was to assess the relationship between differences in learning styles of dental hygiene students and their performance in the program, as represented by graduating G.P.A. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) was administered over a ten year period (1998-2007) to students (n=265) during the first semester of class. The MBTI data was analyzed using frequency distribution and chi square analysis. Personality types were identified and strength of individual preferences reported. Data indicated that those students with learning styles with three preferences that appear to contribute most to scholastic success, I, N, and J had higher GPA’s. INTJ’s represented the highest GPA, consistent with previous MBTI research, even though traditionally for dental hygiene and this study it is one of the least populated preferences. The second highest preference reported was ENTP ‘s, a type that typically scores low in traditional liberal arts courses. I S-J’s whose introverted interest in concepts and ideas combined with their organizational preference to produce a solid scholastic performance were also above the mean. Those with E and S preferences in their learning style who tend to measure higher on practical and applied intelligence tended to fall below the mean as proven in previous studies. On the J-P preference scale, students with the J preference for organization reported higher grades in all but two learning styles than their P counterparts. As with previous reported studies the T-F scale tends to demonstrate no clear preference. Curricular intervention, various methods of assessing students, mentoring, strong counseling and advising especially to those in learning styles that tend to fall below the mean may need to be implemented to increase students success.