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Learning Styles

We hope you caught our recent webinar with Dr. Beth Moody-Jones (April 21).

She made a terrific point about the advantage of teaching anatomy using a variety of techniques—multiple modalities.

She also made a terrific point about making sure that students with different learning styles work together—and she demonstrated that one’s learning style can change as a result of working alongside others.

Quick background: Dr. Beth Moody Jones currently teaches Gross Anatomy and Advanced Orthopedics for the Physical Therapy program at the University of New Mexico. She has both a Doctorate in Physical Therapy from AT Still University and an EdD in Educational Leadership from UNM in 2018.

(We’re just scratching the surface on her degrees and experience. She also maintains a clinical practice at a private practice in Albuquerque with a specialization in the treatment of spinal disorders.)

In talking about how she incorporates the Anatomy in Clay® Learning System into her university-level instruction, Dr. Moody-Jones said she has been keeping data about her students’ learning styles for more than 15 years.

Dr. Moody-Jones uses Kolb’s system of grouping learning styles-

  1. Diverging. “Feel and watch.”

  2. Assimilating. “Think and watch.”

  3. Converging. “Think and do.”

  4. Accommodating. “Feel and do.”

The model includes a perception continuum from Abstract Conceptualism (“thinking”) to Concrete Experience (“feeling”). And another processing continuum from Active Experimentation (“doing”) to Reflective Observation (“watching”). For a clear explanation, follow this link.

Dr. Moody-Jones says her Physical Therapy students arrive representing all four quadrants of the model.

That’s a problem.


‘The literature states,” she said in the webinar, “that to be a critical, clinical, reasoning person they need to be down in the thinking quadrant a little more than in the feeling quadrant and

they need to be closer to the doing quadrant versus the watching quadrant.”

Makes sense, right? You wouldn’t want a physical therapist working on your injury if he or she had only ever watched others palpate a muscle—right?

So Dr. Moody-Jones purposely mixes learning types when it comes time to assign students to work together, say, at a dissection table. (She once put a group of divergers at a table “and nobody had a tool in their hand, they were just watching and waiting for somebody else to do the work.”)

By putting students together, she said, she found that a strange thing happened.

Sixty-eight percent of her students had a change in their learning style, “And they went more toward the clinical reasoning end of the learning style and less up into the accommodating end, the feeling and the doing.”

Dr. Moody-Jones believes in deploying the many modalities of instruction for this reason. She uses cadavers, of course, for dissection and a plastic anatomical model for cross-sections. Computer models? Yes, as needed. She also uses whiteboards for drawing and the Anatomy in Clay® Learning System for hands-on building.

"Working together," she said, "the students learn together and move more toward becoming the 'critical, clinical, reasoning' learners that will produce good physical therapists."

So, here’s to multiple learning styles—and also to multiple modes of learning anatomy.






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