Structured interviews on self-regulated learning strategies of medical students in the final year of medical school

Laura Corazza, Sepide Shirkhani, Pascal O. Berberat, Marjo Wijnen-Meijer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: In the final year of medical school, the educational focus is on experiences in the clinical environment. This is where students acquire most of their practical knowledge for their future career and need to optimise their Self-Regulated Learning (SRL) strategies. Hence, the current study aims to explore which SRL strategies medical students use during their clerkships in different learning settings. Methods: Structured interviews were conducted between May 2019 and December 2020 with 43 medical students during their final year in Munich, Germany. The students were surveyed about their SRL strategies. The transcribed data were thematically analysed using the measurements Strategy Use (SU) and Strategy Frequency (SF). Results: Interview data were organized into 11 SRL strategy categories. The most used SRL strategy in general was “seeking information in the internet in form of a text” (SU: 1; SF: 2.605), with an e-learning tool; followed by “seeking social assistance from doctors” (SU: 0.977; SF: 1.884), and “seeking information in books” (SU: 0.884; SF: 1.419). There were differences in the usage of SRL in different learning contexts between female and male students. For example, 95.3% of students are “seeking social assistance from doctors” when having difficulties on the ward, but only 55.8% when they need help with written tasks (e.g. medical letter). The results show a difference in SRL usage when preparing for oral-practical (79.1% books) and written (97.7% e-learning tool) exam. However, it also appears that some students do not have SRL strategies for certain situations, mostly due to a lack of time. Conclusion: Medical students in the clinical phase are adapting their SRL strategy to the learning situation. To better support students´ SRL, it is necessary to ensure availability for their preferred resources: e-learning tool and experienced physicians as supervisors. Future research should focus on strategies to handle the limited time during clerkships.

Original languageEnglish
Article number604
JournalBMC Medical Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Clerkship
  • Clinical context
  • Learning strategies
  • Medical education
  • Medical students
  • Self-regulated learning


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