Amandeep Kaur, Pooja Lakra, Rajesh Kumar


Introduction: Learning is a lifelong process. Nursing undergraduates needs different types of learning styles to understand different aspects of medical education. Self-directed Learning Readiness and learning styles are important aspect of learning for a nursing student. Objective: To determine Self-directed Learning Readiness and learning styles among nursing undergraduates. Material & methods: Randomly selected 121 baccalaureate nursing undergraduates from different year of study at a tertiary care teaching hospital participated in the survey. Data was collected by administering questionnaire to nursing students. The questionnaire was comprised of personal prole data sheet, Self- Directed Learning Readiness Scale (SDLR) and Kolb’s Learning Styles Inventory to ascertain self-directed learning readiness and learning styles among nursing undergraduates. Appropriate descriptive and inferential statistics was applied to generate results. Results: Findings revealed that ‘converging‘ learning styles is most preferred over other learning styles among nursing undergraduates. Further, ‘self-control on learning’ was retained to determine the willingness for self-directed learning. Similarly, graduate preferred more of ‘self-control’ as compared to ‘self-management‘ and ‘desire for leaning’ to develop self- directed learning readiness. Conclusion: Nursing undergraduates preferred converging learning styles. Use of self-control and ability to manage self-learning toward SDLR was high as compared to wish for learning domain. Result show signicant connection between learning styles and self-control in learning for SDL.

Keywords: Nursing undergraduates, self-directed learning readiness, learning styles

Correspondence at

Dr. Rajesh Kumar PhD (N), RN Assistant Professor

All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS)

Rishikesh, Uttarakhand-249203

E-mail: Mobile: +91-7055911523


Nursing is a profession serving humanity. Modern nursing focuses not only on serving humanity but also on delivering smart care by competent and condent nursing professionals. Day by day, the role of nurse is expanding and getting more complex. Change in health care set-up and increased consumer demands making nursing education challenging for nursing u n d e rg r a d u a t e s . A d v a n c e m e n t  i n t e c h n o l o g y, s o c i a l a n d m e d i c a l environment scared budding nurses to face different kind of challenges1.

Conventional didactic teaching learning pedagogy is outdated in the present era of change. Considering rapid changes in health care environment, a change in existing teaching –learning strategies is expected in nursing education to meet the expectation of society and patient. There are many ways out and adopting a learner- oriented learning styles and skill-based education are few of those strategies for education and evaluation.

Learning is an enduring process that takes place throughout whole life of an individual until death. It is a sequential process in which an individual either acquire new experience or modify the existing experience, knowledge, skills, values and preferences by updating with new one2. Learning style is individual’s preferred way of learning that a learner may use to understand and grasp a concept in his or her own easier way. Learner may use variant learning styles;  diverging, a s s i m i l a t i n g , c o n v e r g i n g a n d accommodating3. It is evidenced that a relative use of teaching strategies in expectation of learner will lead to higher satisfaction and subsequently develop undergraduates’ professional competence4. Self-directed Learning Readiness (SDL) is a method of adult learning5. It is a process in which an individual takes the independent and self-directed initiatives in identifying their needs, devising goals, recognizing material and human, and appraising learning outcomes6 . It is comparative a new teaching strategy in medical  curriculum  similar  to  problem- based learning (PBL), in which student is exposed to a real case base scenario to demonstrate clinical knowledge. An effective and planned SDL enable the learner to develop deep understanding of area rather than learn supercially7. SDL enable learner to develop attitude to learning, positive motivation, independent learning which further forced to develop responsibilities and belonging for positive learning8. Likewise, SDL approach diverts the attention towards self-awareness, planning, self-evaluation along with knowledge in learner9. It also helps a learner to take control and give freedom to learn as per their perception of what is important to learn.

By this time, it is clear that academic achievement of a learner depends on teaching-learning strategies and learning styles of learner. In the present scenario, with the advancement in technology and awareness among patients, the role and responsibilities of nursing professionals is escalating day by day that demands nurses to be critical thinkers and self-directed to learn6.

Therefore, with the known importance of learning styles and self-directed learning readiness in academic achievement and development of professional competence among nursing professional, this study aimed to determine learning styles and level of SDL among nursing undergraduates.

Material and Methods

This cross-sectional one-time survey included 121 randomly selected nursing undergraduates in a tertiary care teaching hospital. A systematic random sampling was opted to select the study participants from each class to take every 3rd student in the study. Student’s attendance register was used to select sample for the study. Information ascertained by use of questionnaire comprised of personal prole data sheet, Self-Directed Learning Readiness (SDLR) and Kolb’s Learning Styles Inventory was used to identify learning styles and self-directed learning readiness among nursing undergraduates. The details of the instruments are as follows;

Personal profile date sheet : It consisted information regarding personal and professional other daily life related events i.e. age, gender, year of the study, parents’ education, occupation, monthly family income, religion, marital status, net surng (in a day), and need of counseling in past. The tool sought validation from the eld of nursing, administration and education.

Kolb’s Learning Style Inventory: This is standard learning styles inventory developed from the learning model proposed by Kolb DA (1974)10. Kolb proposed that different individual naturally prefer different learning styles. This learning inventory has four distinct types of learning styles; accommodator, assimilator, c o n v e r g e n t , a n d d i v e r g e n t . Accommodating (doing and feeling; real life experience/ active researching) (CE/AE); assimilating (observing and thoughtful; abstract conceptualization/ reective observation (AC/RO); Diverging ( f e e l i n g a n d w a t c h i n g ; c o n c r e t e experience/reective observation (CE/RO) and converging (doing and thinking; abstract conceptualization active experimentation (AC/AE). Inventory contains total of 12 items and students are asked to rank each sentence with a choice of four ending (MOST descriptive of you (4) to LEAST descriptive of you (1) in a grid. To check, a total score must be 120 for the grid. A sum of total score of all items in grid concludes types of learning style an individual adopts while learning different activities; getting higher score indicate higher use of an individual types of learning styles. The test-retest reliability of Kolb’s learning inventory is 0.90 for all styles. The author is informed for using the tool for the study.

Self-directed Learning Readiness (SDLR): The standard instrument was developed by Fisher et al (2010)11 This scale in beginning was used to measure attitude, personal preferences and abilities of nurse educator required for self- directed learning readiness. In general, 40 items grouped in three broad areas; wish for learning (n=12), self-control on learning (n=15) and ability to manage self-learning (n=13). The response constituted a range of 40 to 200. Nursing undergraduates responded to a ve-point Likert scale ranged from one strongly disagree to ve strongly agree. Scale score > 150 indicates positive attitude among leaner towards self- directed learning. Validation of the scale sought from experts in the eld of nursing, administration and education for cross- cultural issue and feasibility to the interest of population. However, considering the medium of target participants, no translation has been performed to the original instrument. Information for use of tool is provided to the author.

Data Collection :After obtaining a formal permission from concerned authority, nursing undergraduates were called in their respective class rooms. A  brief explanation on study’s aim and details of questionnaire was disclosed by researcher. It was ensured that participation is voluntary and those who did not wish to participant in the study may leave the class room at any time during data collection. The questionnaires were asked to ll-up by the students and it took around 15-20 minutes to ll and return the questionnaires. A written informed consent was obtained to individual student before begins of data collection and privacy and condentiality was ensured during and after data collection. The study was approved by Institutional Ethical Committee (IEC) all India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Rishikesh, Uttarakhand.


Ta b l e 1 r e p r e s e n t s p e r s o n a l information of nursing undergraduates. The ndings show that mean age of nursing undergraduates was 20 (±1.20) years. Majority (95.6%) undergraduates were unmarried and belong to nuclear families (79.33%). Approximately 64% father were educated up to post graduation and 46.2% mothers of were educated up to secondary level. Half of the fathers were in government job while 80.2% mothers were homemaker with a family income more than 10,001/- rupees per month. Nearly half (46.3%) of undergraduates joined nursing profession as their carrier choice.

Table 1: Personal Profile of Nursing Undergraduates

Variables f(%)
Age (Years)




(Mean± SD)






Academic year

I Year (2015)

II Year (2016)

III Year (2017)

IV Year (2018)





Marital Status

Single Married



Type of family

Joint Nuclear




Education of father

Up to primary

Up to 12th standard PGs and above





Education of mother

Up to primary

Up to 12th standard PGs and above





Occupation of father Self -employed Private work

Govt. Job





Occupation of mother

Homemaker Private work Govt. Job





Monthly family income (in rupees)

< 10,000





Choice of Nursing

Yes No






Table 2 displays the desired learning styles adopted by the nursing undergraduates. Further, it reported that ‘converging’ (Mean Score=39.95) is most preferred learning styles followed by ‘diverging’ (Mean score=37.46) in nursing undergraduates. However, ‘Assimilating’ is third ranked preferred style of learning ( Mean score=35.86) and ‘accommodating’ is the least preferred style of learning (Mean score=35.45) by undergraduate nursing students. (Table 2)

Regarding self-directed learning readiness among nursing undergraduates, self- control reported  highest  means  score ( 5 8 . 8 3 ± 8 . 4 0 ) f o l l o w e d b y s e l f – management (48.22±4.28) and desire for learning (44.76±74.61) (Table 3). This can be understood that self-control is used to determine the willingness of self-directed l e a r n i n g r e a d i n e s s b y n u r s i n g undergraduates. Mean score (151.81) more than 150 indicates positive attitude towards learning. Most of the participants i.e. 86(71.7%) achieved 150 or higher score indicating positive attitude towards learning. With regards to association of self-directed learning readiness with the selected characteristics of nursing undergraduates; higher family monthly income (>10001 INR; p=0.029) and a frequency of 3-5 times internet surng in a day (p=0.03) shows a signicant higher mean in the self- management domain of SDLR among nursing undergraduates. In other two domains i.e., desire for learning and self- control higher mean score was observed in higher family monthly income (>10001 INR; p=0.029) and a frequency of 3-5 times internet surng in a day. Though the difference was not signicant. However, other personal characteristics did not show any signicant association with domains of readiness to learn. (Table 4)


Table 2. Learning Styles Used by Nursing Undergraduates (n=121)


Learning Styles f*(%) Range Mean±SD
Accommodator 68(56.2) 13-48 34.45±8.08
Assimilator 75(62.0) 16-48 35.86±7.78
Divergers 82(67.8) 14-48 37.46±8.22
Convergers 94(77.7) 18-48 39.95±7.08

*Response is multiple

Table 3. Self-Directed Learning Readiness in Nursing Undergraduates (n=121)


Self-directed Learning Readiness Mean±SD Mean (%) Score
Self-management 48.22±4.28 74.18
Desire for learning 44.76±4.10 74.61
Self-control 58.83±8.40 78.44
SDLR (Mean±SD) 151.81±15.8 75.91

SDLR- Self-directed learning readiness

86 participants achieved score 150 or more indicates positive attitude

Table 4. Self-directed Learning Readiness & Selected Characteristics of Nursing Undergraduates (n=121) 

Variables Self-management Desire for learning Self-control
Monthly family income (INR)

< 2500



















p-value 0.029* 0.348 0.271
Internet surfing/day

< 2 times

3-5 times

>5 times













p-value 0.026* 0.595 0.212


p- value significant @<0.05

Further, it represents the association of preferred learning styles with selected socio-demographic variables. Findings represent that BSc IV year nursing undergraduates students had signicantly higher mean score diverging (p=.007) and converging (p=.03) learning styles as compared to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd year students However, assimilation (p=.034) along with diverging (p=.032) and converging (p=.04) shows signicant association with counseling  status  of u n d e rg r a d u a t e s i n p a s t . F u r t h e r, accommodation styles (p=.034) found


Table 5. Learning Styles and Selected Characteristics of Nursing Undergraduates (n=121)


Variables Accommodator Assimilator Diverging Convergers

BSc I year BSc II year BSc III year

BSc IV year

















p-value 0.057 0.595 0.007* 0.03*
Occupation of father Farmer & daily worker Businessman

Govt. Employee

Private employee

















p-value 0.034* 0.512 0.090 0.897
Counseling in past

Yes No









p-value 0.457 0.034* 0.032* 0.040*

p- value significant @<0.05

Table 6. Mean Score of individual items of the SDLR (n=121)


SN Item Mean SD
1         Able to manage time                                                                                  3.16 1.18
2         Feel Self-disciplined 3.71 0.70
3         Feeling organized 4.04 .49
4         I x strict time limit 3.28 .90
5         Have good management skills 3.74 .82
6         I am methodical 3.22 1.03
7         Systematic learning 3.41 .79
8         Dedicated time for study 4.15 .80
9         Plan to solve problem 3.52 .52
10        Work priority 3.71 1.52
11        I can be trusted to pursue my own learning 4.28 .71
12        Stick to follow my learning plan 4.09 .62
13        Condently search information 3.88 1.17
Desire for Learning
14        Wish to learn new information 4.28 1.03
15        Enjoy learning new things 4.27 1.02
16        Need based learning 4.16 1.10
17        I like to accept challenge in learning 3.14 1.35
18        I like studying 3.52 1.34
19        I critically look new ideas 3.42 .97
20        My decisions are evidence based 3.10 1.16
21        I want to know what I learn 3.94 .73
22        Openly welcome new ideas 4.36 .48
23        I believe in trial and error 4.21 1.60
24        I explore ‘why’ 3.88 1.22
25        I do not hesitate to ask for assistance to solve a problem 2.45 1.89
26        I like to set my own goals 3.95 .90
27        I like to make decisions for myself 4.09 .97
28        I am responsible for my own decisions/actions 3.69 1.20
29        I am in control of my life 3.83 1.31
30        I have high personal standards 3.83 .87
31        I prefer to set my own learning goals 3.90 .76
32        I evaluate my own performance 4.12 .77
33        I learn logically 3.90 .76
34        I take responsibility for my action 3.19 1.63
35        I have high personal expectations 3.42 1.41
36        I am able to focus on a problem 4.39 .68
37        I know my limitations 4.06 .90
38        I am able to explore information for myself 3.83 1.10
39        I believe in my potentials 4.45 .56
40        I like to set my own standard for evaluation for myself 4.13 .36

signicant association with occupation of father (i.e. farmer and daily workers) as compared to government and private employees of nursing undergraduates. (Table 5) Mean score of SDLR is shown in table, out of 13 items of measuring self-management, only four items scored 4 and above, rest of the items show very similar value indicating similar response of nursing undergraduates towards self-management domains. A similar trend was followed for desire for learning domain and self-control in SDLR reecting a common response towards majority of items in SDLR and improving willingness to self-directed learning readiness. (Table 6)

Table 7 revealed relationships between learning styles and self-directed learning readiness. The ndings represent that self- control shows negative signicant relationship with assimilating (p<0.05), diverging (p<0.05) and converging (p<0.05) types of learning styles. It indicates that self-control enable the undergraduates to determine use of learning styles, higher the self-control lesser use of assimilating, diverging and converging learning styles and vice-versa.

                                      Self-directed Learning Readiness                                     
Table 7. Relationships between learning styles and self-directed learning readiness (n=121)

Learning Styles self-management Desire to learn Self-control
Accommodator -.133 -.094 -.114
Assimilator .072 -.124 -.060*
Divergers -.111 -.074 -.086*
Convergers .082 -.095 -.040*


*Significant at p<0.05


Nursing is a skill-oriented profession where practical or hand skills are more appreciated than theoretical knowledge. Nursing personal require high degree of dedication, autonomy, motivation and condence to deal day to day hospital business and lifelong learning. The present study focused on preferred learning styles and self-directed readiness to learning among nursing undergraduates. The preferred learning styles and self-directed learning readiness are the key factors for creating learning environment and designing curriculum for meeting the changing needs of the society.

Present study ndings showed that a greater number of nursing undergraduates preferred converging learning styles followed by accommodating and diverging. These ndings are in line with the work of Abu Assi NE et al (2016)5 which reported that 14.8% of undergraduates using converging styles of learning and 14.8% undergraduates preferred accommodating styles of learning. A close similar nding reported in the work of Sh S (2007) which reported that more number (23.5%) of undergraduates preferred convergent learning styles followed by 21.5% accommodating and remaining 25.81% preferred assimilating styles of learning. Further, in a UK study, it was also reported that majority of undergraduate nursing undergraduates preferred to choose a ‘dual’ learning style. Similarly, in a work conducted by Troski M et al (2014) in North K h o r a s a n u n i v e r s i t y o n m e d i c a l undergraduates also reported that convergent and divergent are the most preferred learning styles. Learning styles related ndings are also in concurrence with the work of Russian C (2005), Fleming S et al (2011) and Emani E et al (2016).

In terms of self-directed learning readiness among nursing undergraduates, the ndings represent that a large proportion of nursing undergraduates are independent learner and managing their learning on their own. These ndings agree with the work of Gebru AA et al (2015) and Safvi et al (2010) which stated a high level of SDLR among   J o r d a n i a n a n d I r a n i a n n u r s i n g undergraduates reecting independency for learning respectively. Likewise, the present study ndings are identical to the work of    L e s t a r i e t a l ( 2 0 0 9 ) w h e r e m o r e undergraduates reported busy in self- centered learning other than teacher centered learning styles .

Further, present ndings related to learning styles is in contradiction to the work of D’Amore et al (2012) and Salehi et al (2007) which found that more nursing undergraduates indulging in diverging learning styles compared to convergent followed by assimilating and accommodating learning styles . Difference in the ndings might be due to change in educational situation and different learning experiences of the undergraduates. SDL is the element of adult learning and require for nursing undergraduates for lifelong learning in order to develop more competency and ne hand skills. In present s t u d y, r e s u l t s s h o w t h a t n u r s i n g undergraduates shows positive attitude towards readiness for SDL. This result is in concordance with the work of Soliman M et al (2015) which conducted a survey for SDL on  r s t y e a r u n d e r g r a d u a t e m e d i c a l undergraduates reects positive attitude towards SDL. Similar consistent ndings reported in the work of Abraham RR et al (2011) and Kharab P et al (2013) reported positive attitude and high degree of readiness towards SDL. In spite of lack of educational resources and multiple other barriers for nursing education in India, the present study ndings show high degree of readiness among nursing undergraduates which is an encouraging and considered positive for growth of nursing profession. Literature also reported similar and consistent ndings for DRL in medical undergraduates ,.


The study explored learning styles and self-directed learning readiness among nursing undergraduates. Principally, converging learning style is most preferred leaning style by nursing undergraduates. Further, it has evident that self-control is used by students to determine the types of learning style. This indicates that students can make over control on their own learning and learning styles. Further, it has been evident that use of learning styles among nursing students depend on many personal and professional factors and should be undertaken by teaching faculty while framing a plan for teaching-learning pedagogy.

Limitations and recommendations

The present quantitative survey should be seen under many limitations. Single study setting and limited yet randomized number of participants may hinder the generalization of the ndings to other institutes populations. Furthermore, SDLR and Kolb’s learning styles inventory were self- reported questionnaires may carry subjective bias. However, study recommends determining the teaching needs and readiness of nursing undergraduates towards self-directed learning. Further, there is a need to shift to nursing undergraduates from conventional educational approaches to modern and self- regulating approach that develop analytical thinking, self-direction and increase their input in the learning process. Likewise, nurse educator should also determine the need- based teaching strategies to increase the quality of nursing professionals.

Conflict of Interest: None declared

Financial disclosure: Project was funded by All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Rishikesh.

Ethical clearance: Obtained from Institute Ethics Committee (IEC), AIIMS, Rishikesh

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