An Exploration of Learning Styles Used by Social Work Students: A Systematic Review


  • Jose Frantz University of the Western Cape
  • Nicolette Vanessa Roman University of the Western Cape
  • Mariana De Jager University of the Western Cape



learning preferences, university teaching and learning, social work teaching, Kolb’s Learning Style Inventory, diverging learning style, diverse student population


Social work educators are faced with the challenge of ensuring that students from diverse backgrounds are fully equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills. However, to be effective social work educators, the educator is required to understand the learning style of the student. The aim of this systematic review was to explore the learning styles of social work students for the purpose of understanding how to adapt and refine teaching strategies in social work. To this end, a search for descriptive studies in databases, which included Ebscohost (Academic Premier, CINAHL, SOcIndex, Psycharticles, Medline), DOAJ and Pubmed, was conducted. Eight articles met the criteria for inclusion in this systematic review. The target population included both undergraduate and postgraduate students. The studies were mainly conducted in developed countries. The results suggest that the most common approach for social workers is the diverging learning style, which entails having an interest in people, being aware of emotion, and a tendency to be imaginative. This review recommends that if there is an improved understanding of students’ learning needs then educators could adapt their teaching strategies to accommodate and support students from diverse backgrounds, with diverse learning needs.


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How to Cite

Frantz, Jose, Nicolette Vanessa Roman, and Mariana De Jager. 2017. “An Exploration of Learning Styles Used by Social Work Students: A Systematic Review”. Southern African Journal of Social Work and Social Development 29 (1):92–106.



Received 2017-03-02
Accepted 2017-03-08
Published 2017-07-17