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S Afr Med J. 1992 Jun 20;81(12):596-606.

Influences on the quality of student learning--implications for medical education.

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Centre for Research on Learning and Instruction, University of Edinburgh.


This paper reviews recent research into the ways in which departments influence the quality of student learning. A substantial literature has developed which describes differences in the ways in which students learn and study in higher education. These differences emphasise the distinction between seeking personal understanding and reproducing information or procedures. The research indicates that certain departments, and some lecturers, are much better than others in encouraging students to look for deep levels of meaning. The quality of teaching and the methods of assessment are particularly influential, but so is the extent to which students are helped to develop effective studying and learning strategies. Some students have been shown to have major problems in the way they perceive and utilise the opportunities for learning provided by departments. While much of the research is not drawn directly from medical faculties, the relevance to medical education is pointed up and supported by specific examples of relevant research.

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