Send to

Choose Destination
J Grad Med Educ. 2017 Aug;9(4):451-457. doi: 10.4300/JGME-D-16-00703.1.

Changing Resident Physician Studying Behaviors: A Randomized, Comparative Effectiveness Trial of Goal Setting Versus Use of WOOP.



Following through on one's goals to study is essential for effective, self-regulated learning. This can be difficult for residents because of clinical demands and limited personal time. WOOP (Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, Plan) is a self-regulation strategy, also known as mental contrasting with implementation intentions. WOOP increases follow-through on goals in many domains, although it has not, to our knowledge, been evaluated in medical education.


We compared the effect of WOOP versus goal setting on time residents spent studying.


Through a prospective, randomized, comparative effectiveness study, during a 1-month, intensive care unit rotation, we clustered anesthesiology residents in single-blind fashion to WOOP versus goal setting. Both groups received organized study materials. The intervention group performed WOOP to study more; the comparison group set goals to study more. Residents tracked studying with daily diaries. The primary outcome was total time spent studying toward stated goals. Time spent studying "non-goal" medical material was a secondary outcome.


Of 34 eligible residents, 100% participated. Sixteen residents were randomized to the WOOP group and 18 to the goal-setting group. The WOOP group spent significantly more time studying toward their goals compared with the goal-setting group (median = 4.3 hours versus 1.5 hours; P = .021; g = 0.66). There was no significant difference in time spent studying non-goal medical material between groups (median = 5.5 hours versus 5.0 hours, P = .99).


WOOP increased the time residents spent studying toward their goals as compared with setting goals alone.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center