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J Educ Eval Health Prof > Epub ahead of print
J Educ Eval Health Prof. 2021; 18: 5.
Published online April 6, 2021.
[Epub ahead of print]
Medical students’ pattern of self-directed learning prior to and during the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic period and its implications for Free Open Access Meducation within the United Kingdom
Jack Barton1  , Kathrine Sofia Rallis2  , Amber Elyse Corrigan3  , Ella Hubbard1  , Antonia Round4  , Greta Portone5  , Ashvin Kuri2  , Tien Tran2  , Yu Zhi Phuah6  , Katie Knight7  , Jonathan Round1 
1St George’s, University of London, London, UK
2Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, London, UK
3King’s College London, London, UK
4George Davies Centre, Medical School, University of Leicester, Leicester, UK
5Imperial College London, London, UK
6University College London, London, UK
7North Middlesex Hospital, London, UK
Correspondence  Jack Barton ,Email:
Editor:  Sun Huh, Hallym University, Korea
Submitted: February 5, 2021  Accepted after revision: April 6, 2021
Self-directed learning (SDL) has been increasingly emphasized within medical education. However, little is known about the SDL resources medical students use. This study aimed to identify patterns in medical students’ SDL behaviors, their SDL resource choices, factors motivating these choices, and the potential impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic on these variables.
An online cross-sectional survey comprising multiple-choice, ranked, and free-text response questions were disseminated to medical students across all 41 UK medical schools between April and July 2020. Independent study hours and sources of study materials prior to and during the COVID-19 pandemic were compared. Motivational factors guiding resource choices and awareness of Free Open Access Meducation were also investigated.
The target sample was 75 students per medical school across a total of 41 medical schools within the United Kingdom (3,075 total students), and 1,564 responses were analyzed. University-provided information comprised the most commonly used component of independent study time, but a minority of total independent study time. Independent study time increased as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic (P<0.001). All sub-cohorts except males reported a significant increase in the use of resources such as free websites and question banks (P<0.05) and paid websites (P<0.05) as a result of the pandemic. Accessibility was the most influential factor guiding resource choice (Friedman’s μrank=3.97, P<0.001).
The use of learning resources independent of university provision is increasing. Educators must ensure equitable access to such materials while supporting students in making informed choices regarding their independent study behaviors.
Keywords: Access to Information; COVID-19; Learning; Medical students; United Kingdom
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