In order to stay current with the continuously changing medical literature doctors need to be life-long, self-regulated learners. The authors of this study propose that medical schools, therefore, need to educate students in effective self-learning skills. This paper examines if the students’ self-regulated learning skills change during medical school, and if there is a correlation between students’ self-learning skills and their grades (GPA).
Using a validated tool, called the Self-Regulation of Learning Self-Report Scale (SRL-SRS), 949 first and third year medical students were surveyed in several self-regulation skills: planning, monitoring, reflection, evaluation, effort, and efficacy. Outcomes were compared between the classes and measured against the students’ GPAs.
Reflection was the only skill that was scored significantly higher in the third year students than the first years. Comparing academic performance (GPAs) with self-regulation skills showed several associations. First year students with a higher GPA reported more skills in reflection, effort, and monitoring than those with lower GPAs. Third year students, likewise, showed a higher GPA correlated with more effort. The authors hypothesize that the highly structured curriculum of medical school does not allow students to develop self-regulation skills even though it is encouraged during medical school and that effective self-learning skills need to be actively taught during the undergraduate medical school years. –Lee Ann Schein, Ph.D.