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Learning approach among health sciences students in a medical college in Nepal: a cross-sectional study

Authors Shah DK, Lochan Yadav R, Sharma D, Kumar Yadav P, Khatri Sapkota N, Kumar Jha R, Islam N

Received 20 November 2015

Accepted for publication 2 January 2016

Published 4 March 2016 Volume 2016:7 Pages 137—143


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Robert Robinson

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Anwarul Azim Majumder

Video abstract presented by Dev Kumar Shah

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Dev Kumar Shah, Ram Lochan Yadav, Deepak Sharma, Prakash Kumar Yadav, Niraj Khatri Sapkota, Rajesh Kumar Jha, Md Nazrul Islam

Department of Physiology, Chitwan Medical College, Bharatpur, Chitwan, Nepal

Background: Many factors shape the quality of learning. The intrinsically motivated students adopt a deep approach to learning, while students who fear failure in assessments adopt a surface approach to learning. In the area of health science education in Nepal, there is still a lack of studies on learning approach that can be used to transform the students to become better learners and improve the effectiveness of teaching. Therefore, we aimed to explore the learning approaches among medical, dental, and nursing students of Chitwan Medical College, Nepal using Biggs’s Revised Two-Factor Study Process Questionnaire (R-SPQ-2F) after testing its reliability.
Methods: R-SPQ-2F containing 20 items represented two main scales of learning approaches, deep and surface, with four subscales: deep motive, deep strategy, surface motive, and surface strategy. Each subscale had five items and each item was rated on a 5-point Likert scale. The data were analyzed using Student’s t-test and analysis of variance. Reliability of the administered questionnaire was checked using Cronbach’s alpha.
Results: The Cronbach’s alpha value (0.6) for 20 items of R-SPQ-2F was found to be acceptable for its use. The participants predominantly had a deep approach to learning regardless of their age and sex (deep: 32.62±6.33 versus surface: 25.14±6.81, P<0.001). The level of deep approach among medical students (33.26±6.40) was significantly higher than among dental (31.71±6.51) and nursing (31.36±4.72) students. In comparison to first-year students, deep approach among second-year medical (34.63±6.51 to 31.73±5.93; P<0.001) and dental (33.47±6.73 to 29.09±5.62; P=0.002) students was found to be significantly decreased. On the other hand, surface approach significantly increased (25.55±8.19 to 29.34±6.25; P=0.023) among second-year dental students compared to first-year dental students.
Conclusion: Medical students were found to adopt a deeper approach to learning than dental and nursing students. However, irrespective of disciplines and personal characteristics of participants, the primarily deep learning approach was found to be shifting progressively toward a surface approach after completion of an academic year, which should be avoided.

Keywords: deep, surface, motive, strategy
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