Fourth-Year Medical Students` Experiences Developing Scholarly Projects: A Case Study
By: Sultana Mustafa
Published: 5/20/2015
Uploaded: 03/12/2018
Uploaded by: Pocket Masters
Pockets: 2015 (May) Teachers College Columbia University Ed.D. Dissertations, Historical Dissertations
Tags: Medical education, Scholarly Projects, self-directed learning

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Description/Abstract: Individual scholarly projects are an emerging component of the undergraduate medical education curriculum leading to a Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree. They provide students the opportunity to pursue an in-depth inquiry into a topic under the guidance of a faculty mentor that culminates in a tangible scholarly product. This case study, which employed a survey and in-depth interviews with 25 senior medical students to collect data, examined how medical students conceptualized their experiences of selecting and carrying out their scholarly projects and their perceptions of their self-directed learning as they pursued their projects.

The inquiry was guided by five research questions: a) What were medical students’ goals for pursuing individual scholarly projects? b) How did medical students select and carry out their scholarly projects? c) What did medical students learn from carrying out their scholarly projects? d) How did medical students expect to build on and apply their learning? and e) In which ways were medical students self-directed in carrying out their scholarly projects? The researcher investigated the collective experience of all participants and differences in the experiences of participant subgroups.

Findings revealed that various factors motivated participants’ goals for pursuing scholarly projects: their professional aspirations, desire to learn specific knowledge and skills, prior experience, interests and personal reasons, and having to fulfill the scholarly project curricular requirement. They engaged in different aspects of project work that ranged from deciding on a project, finding and working with a mentor, designing and implementing a project, to communicating about a project to its target audience. Participants reported learning various skills, knowledge related to their project topics, and more about themselves. They shared their intentions to pursue scholarly work in the future, build on and publish their projects, and apply what they learned during their residency training and to their careers. While all participants exhibited self-direction in carrying out their projects to some extent, the researcher observed that some were more autonomous in setting and pursuing goals than others. Based on these findings, the researcher made several recommendations for future research and practice to better support medical students’ scholarly pursuits.