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Medical students' perceptions of their learning environment during a mandatory research project



Medical students' perceptions of their learning environment during a mandatory research project



International Journal of Medical Education 8: 375-381



To explore medical students´ perceptions of their learning environment during a mandatory 20-week scientific research project. This cross-sectional study was conducted between 2011 and 2013. A total of 651 medical students were asked to fill in the Clinical Learning Environment, Supervision, and Nurse Teacher (CLES+T) questionnaire, and 439 (mean age 26 years, range 21-40, 60% females) returned the questionnaire, which corresponds to a response rate of 67%. The Mann-Whitney U test or the Kruskal-Wallis test were used to compare the research environments. The item My workplace can be regarded as a good learning environment correlated strongly with the item There were sufficient meaningful learning situations (r= 0.71, p<0.001). Overall satisfaction with supervision correlated strongly with the items interaction (r=0.78, p < 0.001), feedback (r=0.76, p<0.001), and a sense of trust (r=0.71, p < 0.001).  Supervisors´ failures to bridge the gap between theory and practice or to explain intended learning outcomes were important negative factors.  Students with basic science or epidemiological projects rated their learning environments higher than did students with clinical projects (χ2(3, N=437)=20.29, p<0.001). A good research environment for medical students comprises multiple meaningful learning activities, individual supervision with continuous feedback, and a trustful atmosphere including interactions with the whole staff.  Students should be advised that clinical projects might require a higher degree of student independence than basic science projects, which are usually performed in research groups where members work in close collaboration.

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