Frequency of Student Resource Use and Academic Performance in Preclerkship Education: A Survey Study

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Medical Science Educator


Medical students have unprecedented access to a large variety of learning resources, but patterns of resource use, differences in use across education cohorts, and the relationship between resource use and academic performance are unclear. Therefore, the purpose of the current study was to evaluate student resource use and its relationship to academic performance during preclerkship years. First-year and second-year medical students completed a 10-question electronic survey that assessed likelihood of using outside resources recommended by others, reasons for using outside resources, frequency of use of resources, and use of outside resources for specific disciplines. Outcomes were compared between the 2 cohorts of students. First-year students were more likely to use instructor-produced resources and self-generated study resources, and second-year students were more likely to use board review resources. Although differences were found between cohorts for frequency of use of certain resources, correlations between resource use and academic performance were modest. Overall, our results indicated that student use of study resources changed between the first and second years of medical school. These results suggest opportunities for medical educators to guide students in the selection and effective use of outside resources as they mature as self-regulated learners. Further, since students seem to extensively use external resources for learning, institutions should consider calibrating their curriculum and teaching methods to this learning style and providing high-quality, accessible resource materials for all students to reduce the potential impact of socioeconomic factors on student performance.

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