Publication Details

Chonkar, S. P., Ha, T. C., Chu, S. S. H., Ng, A. X., Lim, M. L. S., Ee, T. X., Ng, M. J. & Tan, K. H. (2018). The predominant learning approaches of medical students. BMC Medical Education, 18 17-1-17-8.


Background By identifying medical students’ learning approaches and the factors that influence students’ learning approaches, medical schools and health care institutions are better equipped to intervene and optimize their learning experience. The aims of our study is to determine the predominant learning approach amongst medical students on a clinical posting in a hospital in Singapore and to examine the demographic factors that affect their learning approach. Methods The Approaches and Study Skills Inventory for Students (ASSIST) questionnaire was administered to 250 medical students from various medical schools on clinical attachment to the Obstetrics and Gynaecology (O&G) department of KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH) Singapore between March 2013 and May 2015 to determine students’ predominant learning approaches. Multinomial logistic regression was used to examine the association between demographic factors (age, gender and highest education qualification) and predominant learning approach. A cut-off of p < 0.05 was used for statistical significance. Results Amongst 238 students with one predominant learning approach, 96 (40.3%) and 121 students (50.8%) adopted the deep and strategic approach respectively, whilst only 21 (8.8%) adopted the surface approach. Male students appeared less likely to adopt the strategic learning approach than female students (p value = 0.06). Predominant learning approaches were not influenced by demographic characteristics such as age, gender and highest educational qualifications. Conclusions This study provided insight into the learning approaches of a heterogeneous group of medical students in Singapore. While it is encouraging that the majority of students predominantly utilised the deep and strategic learning approach, there was a significant proportion of students who utilised the surface approach. Interventions can be explored to promote deeper learning amongst these students.



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