Scientific article
Open access

Trajectories of learning approaches during a full medical curriculum: impact on clinical learning outcomes

Published inBMC Medical Education, vol. 21, no. 1, 370
Publication date2021

Background: No consensus exists on whether medical students develop towards more deep (DA) or surface learning approaches (SA) during medical training and how this impacts learning outcomes. We investigated whether subgroups with different trajectories of learning approaches in a medical students' population show different long-term learning outcomes. Methods: Person-oriented growth curve analyses on a prospective cohort of 269 medical students (Mage=21years,59 % females) traced subgroups according to their longitudinal DA/SA profile across academic years 1, 2, 3 and 5. Post-hoc analyses tested differences in academic performance between subgroups throughout the 6-year curriculum until the national high-stakes licensing exam certifying the undergraduate medical training. Results: Two longitudinal trajectories emerged: surface-oriented (n = 157; 58 %), with higher and increasing levels of SA and lower and decreasing levels of DA; and deep-oriented (n = 112; 42 %), with lower and stable levels of SA and higher but slightly decreasing levels of DA. Post hoc analyses showed that from the beginning of clinical training, deep-oriented students diverged towards better learning outcomes in comparison with surface-oriented students. Conclusions: Medical students follow different trajectories of learning approaches during a 6-year medical curriculum. Deep-oriented students are likely to achieve better clinical learning outcomes than surface-oriented students.

  • Approaches to learning
  • Student performance
  • Learning outcome
  • Growth curve modeling
Citation (ISO format)
PIUMATTI, Giovanni et al. Trajectories of learning approaches during a full medical curriculum: impact on clinical learning outcomes. In: BMC Medical Education, 2021, vol. 21, n° 1, p. 370. doi: 10.1186/s12909-021-02809-2
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Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal1472-6920

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