Background: One of the strongly theorized areas of research associated with learning outcomes has been the approaches to learning. Few studies have been focused on examining the relationship between the approaches to learning medicine (ALM) and learning outcomes. Objectives: The objectives were: (1) to conduct psychometric testing of the ALM questionnaire; and (2) to examine the association between medical learners’ ALM and learning outcomes. Design: We developed the ALM questionnaire which was a modification of the Revised Learning Process questionnaire. We defined the learning outcome of each house officer as the class rank in his/her graduating class. Exploratory factor analysis was used to examine the factor structure of the ALM questionnaire. We conducted Pearson’s and Spearman’s Rank correlation coefficients for examining the linear relationships between two continuous variables, and between a continuous variable and a categorical variable, respectively. Stepwise multivariate linear regression analysis with backward elimination was undertaken to examine the correlation between the ALM and the learning outcome. Results: A house officer with deep strategies (relating multiple ideas and truly understanding the course content) or surface motivations (aim for qualification) was more likely to have a better learning outcome as indicated by a better class rank based on his/her academic performance. Furthermore, a house officer with surface learning strategies (minimizing the study scope to merely passing the examination) to learning medicine was more likely to have an unfavorable class rank. Conclusions: This study represents the first report of the correlation between house officers’ ALM and learning outcomes. House officers with deep strategies were more likely to have better learning outcomes. In particular, house officers with a surface motive to learning medicine, i.e., aiming for qualification, were surprisingly correlated with better learning outcomes.
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