Theme: 8BB Teaching and learning: Principles
  • Currently 0.00/5
  • 1
  • 1
  • 2
  • 2
  • 3
  • 3
  • 4
  • 4
  • 5
  • 5

Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)

Logo
You can lead a horse to water but how does it think? The study habits of fourth and fifth year Aberdeen university medical students
Authors: Dr Sheena Murdoch Institutions: Aberdeen University
NHS - Glasgow - United Kingdom
 
Background

Relatively little is known about how students study in their own time - the resources they use, how they write revision notes, if they study in groups and if they feel their study habits have changed over time.  Educational research has understandably concentrated on aspects of education which can be modified by the tutor - how teaching is delivered and how students are assessed.  By understanding how students use resources faculties can better tailor the revision material they offer to students.

Summary of Work

Fourth and fifth year Aberdeen university medical students were asked to participate in the study.  A pilot focus group was carried out, the discussion audio-recorded and analysed for themes.  

An online questionnaire was then distributed to all students, due to a poor response paper questionnaires were then administered to fifth year students and a higher yield was obtained. 149 completed questionnaires were returned.

The most common resources used were textbooks, personal notes, printed lecture hand outs, the internet and mock questions but the order in which they used them (1 the first and 5 the last) varied between students (graph1.)  Patient.co.uk was the most commonly used website. Wikipedia was used by 60 respondents but some students advised directly against the use of this website as an unreliable resource.

 

Students reported using a variety of note taking techniques.  Two thirds of those respondents who reported the use of flash cards and mind maps used either one or the other (26 used flash cards, 21 used mind maps alone and 19 used both.)  Free text comments suggested they understood why they used the method ' my brain likes them (flash cards and mind maps) I’m a visual learner.'

Re-write what is already written

60

Create flash cards

45

Condense notes

117

Make mind maps

40

Type notes

29

I don't write any notes

4

98 reported studying in groups and most only studies in groups when preparing for examinations.  Groups studied in a variety of ways e.g. each student presenting a topic to the group, choosing a topic to discuss together, an informal gathering to brainstorm subjects.  Group study was usually considered supportive but could also be a source of anxiety.  One focus goup member commented    'I like working with other people but only if I know a certain amount already. Like it really stresses me out if I'm in a group and I haven't studied.  But once I've studied a bit then group work is really easy.  And it always has to be certain people.'

Students seemed to have an inherent understanding of learning styles and some attributed their study preference to their perceived learning style, most commonly to being a 'visual learner.'  Although students appeared to be aware of the visual, auditory, kinesthetic learning models most did not remember being formally taught revision techniques.

Most students felt their study technique has changed since secondary education. The common changes were, studying longer, writing more notes, being more organised and using more resources.  Three students commented on the deeper learning needed in university 'Our course is now vast and has indefinite parameters where at school curriculum had finite content so you could manage to know it all.  Tutorial based revision following self-study works best for university work.'

 

 

 

Conclusion

Students varied widely in their study preferences but there were key resources which were used repeatedly - textbooks, the internet, notes and mock questions. Videos and online forums were used far less.  Use of Websites used to gather information varied widely but many used Wikipedia.  This raises concern that students are not always using reliable sources or studying materials in depth. When considering study supoort, the medical faulty should bear in mind student preference for resources and may also consider providing guidance in the use of external online resources.

 

Group study was popular with students, although from the focus group discussion it became apparent that participating in study groups is a personal choice and the groups require the right balance of personalities and attitudes towards study to be productive.

 

The students had a knowledge of study skills - how to draw mind maps, flash cards and an understanding of learning styles, although many couldn't remember being taught this information.  Some students did not feel learning about study skills would be useful and reported that finding a learning style was a matter of trial and error.  However to an academically struggling student, study skills information may be invaluable.

Take-home Messages

Medical students use a variety of study resources.  Faculities could provide guidance on the most reliable internet websites to use.

Students see revision technique as personal choice and it is unlikely that organised group revision sessions, study timetables or study technique seminars will change it.

Acknowledgement

I would like to thank the faculty of Aberdeen Medical School, both in Aberdeen and Inverness for supporting this study and to the medical students for their participation.

I would like to thank Edinburgh University and my MSc Clinical Education supervisor Mrs Gill Aitken for her guidance.

Background
Summary of Work
Conclusion
Take-home Messages
Acknowledgement
Send ePoster Link