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Acad Med. 2004 Nov;79(11):1120-6.

Assessing the relationship of learning approaches to workplace climate in clerkship and residency.

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Department of Family Medicine, Queen's University, 220 Bagot Street, Kingston, Ontario K7L 5E9, Canada.



To determine what approaches to learning are adopted by clinical clerks and residents and whether these approaches are associated with demographic factors, specialty, level of training, and perceptions of the workplace climate.


In 2001-02, medical clerks (n = 532) and residents (n = 2,939) at five medical schools in Ontario, Canada, were mailed the Workplace Learning Questionnaire. The correlation between the approaches to learning at work and perceived workplace climate and the influence of gender, age, location, residency program and level of training on outcomes were measured.


A total of 1,642 clerks and residents responded (47%). The factor structure and reliability of the Workplace Learning Questionnaire were confirmed for these respondents. A surface-disorganized approach to learning was correlated with perception of heavy workload (r = .401, p < .001). The deep approach to learning was correlated with perception of choice-independence in the workplace and a supportive-receptive workplace (r = .32, p < .001; r = .23, p < .001). The climate factors, perception of choice-independence and supportive-receptive workplace, were correlated (r = .60, p < .001). There were significant differences among the mean scores for scales based on residency, year of training, and location of training.


Perception of the workplace climate was associated with the approach to learning in the workplace of clerks and residents. Perception of heavy workload was associated with less effective approaches to learning. These associations varied with the residency program and the level of training.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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