Changes in Study Strategies of Medical Students between Basic Science Courses and Clerkships Are Associated with Performance

David C. Ensminger, Amy E. Hoyt, Arcot J. Chandrasekhar, John A. McNulty


We tested the hypothesis that medical students change their study strategies when transitioning from basic
science courses to clerkships, and that their study practices are associated with performance scores. Factor scores
for three approaches to studying (construction, rote, and review) generated from student (n=150) responses to a
questionnaire were correlated to examination and clinical performance scores. Composite factor scores were
compared using a paired t-test and sign test to examine changes in study practices as students transitioned from
basic science courses to clerkships. The construction approach to studying was more likely to have a positive and
stronger relationship to examination scores in both courses and clerkships, but showed no significant
associations with clinical performance scores. Our analyses indicated that students are more likely to increase
their use of study practices associated with construction of knowledge as they transition from courses to
clerkships. Although learning is a complex endeavor, students employing construction study strategies are more
likely to outperform their peers who rely mostly on rote and review practices. Transitioning from basic science
courses to the clerkships students tend to utilize more construction study practices suggesting that students are
responsive to their learning environments when selecting study strategies.

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Journal of Education and Learning   ISSN 1927-5250 (Print)   ISSN 1927-5269 (Online)


Copyright © Canadian Center of Science and Education

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