Medical Student Motivations, Persistence, and Design Factors in Foundational Science Online Learning Modules: A Qualitative Study
Gantwerker, Eric Alan
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CitationGantwerker, Eric Alan. 2017. Medical Student Motivations, Persistence, and Design Factors in Foundational Science Online Learning Modules: A Qualitative Study. Master's thesis, Harvard Medical School.
AbstractLimited research exists on the intersection of medical education, e-learning, and motivation. To better understand this intersection, a qualitative study was conducted with pre-medical students following exposure to a new online learning course designed to teach basic science in the context of medicine. A total of seventeen, one-hour semi-structured interviews were conducted on medical, dental, and graduate students exposed to the curriculum. Research questions focused on initial motivations to engage with the material and, for those who completed the coursework, what motivated them to persist to completion. The interviews were coded and categories and themes were generated. Analysis revealed motivations ranging across the spectrum of extrinsic to intrinsic and included elements of a sub theory of motivation entitled organismic integration theory (OIT). Organismic integration theory (OIT) is an autonomy based continuum within extrinsic motivation that includes external regulation, introjection, identification, and integration. Findings suggest that initial motivations to engage in the online material were on the lower end of autonomy of the OIT continuum, but following exposure to the modules, students noted elements of more autonomous motivations that specifically led them to persist. They mention design factors such as varied multimedia elements, real-life examples, interactive virtual scenarios, instructor-led segments, interspersed knowledge assessments with immediate feedback, and real medical scenarios, patients, and equipment. Students explained that these design factors facilitated their learning and enhanced their enjoyment of the material, ultimately moving them towards completion. Although this study described a small group of self-selected students, it represents an important subgroup of learners in this space. Also, this is one of only a select few qualitative studies on the intersection of medical education, e-learning, and motivation. This pilot study is poised to stimulate more research into this area to better elucidate motivations in medical students with the goal of improving the design of online learning experiences either as a stand-alone or as part of a blended learning model.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:42077948