Sonali Prashant Chonkar1,2, Hester Lau Chang Qi2, Tam Cam Ha3, Melissa Lim2, Mor Jack Ng2 & Kok Hian Tan1,2,4,5,6

1Duke-NUS Medical School, Singapore; 2Division of Obstetrics & Gynaecology (O&G), Kandang Kerbau Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH), Singapore; 3The University of Wollongong, Australia, 4SingHealth Duke-NUS Joint Office of Academic Medicine, Singapore; 5Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, NUS, Singapore; 6Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore


Background: Students’ learning approaches have revealed that deep learning approach has a positive impact on academic performance. There are suggestions of a waning interest in deep learning to surface learning.

Aim: To assess if digital media can reduce the incidence of surface learning approach among medical students

Method: A digital video introducing three predominant learning approaches (deep, strategic, surface) was shown to medical students between March 2015 and January 2017. The Approaches and Study Skills Inventory for Students (ASSIST), was administered at the beginning and end of their clinical attachment, to determine if there were any changes to the predominant learning approaches. A survey was conducted using a 5-point Likert scale to assess if video resulted in change.

Results: Of 351 students, 191 (54.4%) adopted deep, 118 (33.6%) adopted strategic and 42 (12.0%) adopted surface as their predominant learning approach at the beginning of their clinical attachment. At the end of their clinical attachment, 171 (49.6%) adopted deep, 143 (41.4%) adopted strategic and 31 (9.0%) adopted surface learning as their predominant learning approach. The incidence of students predominantly using surface approach decreased from 42 (12.0%) to 31 (9.0%), although not statistically significant. Qualitative feedback from students stated that they were more likely to adopt non-surface learning approaches after viewing the video.

Conclusion: This evaluation highlighted the potential of digital media as an educational tool to help medical students reflect on their individual learning approaches and reduce the incidence of surface learning approach.

Keywords:            Learning Approaches, ASSIST, Digital Media, Video, Deep Learning, Surface Learning

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