Ward P, Walker J. The influence of study methods and knowledge processing on academic success and long-term recall of anatomy learning by first-year veterinary students. Anat Sci Educ. 2008 Mar-Apr; 1(2):68-74

PMID: 19177384


The purpose of this investigation was to quantitatively and qualitatively identify the study methods and learning strategies that veterinary students used to study anatomy during their first year of professional school and to correlate these with their academic achievement and long-term recall of information. It was surmised that active study methods would be more beneficial than passive method, but this hypothesis was not supported. The activity or passivity of each study method was secondary to the way in which the students processed the learning. No single study method was associated with academic success or long-term recall; instead, successful students used a multitude of study methods while the struggling students relied on a single method alone, although these methods varied from student to student. Students and their study methods were profiled using the qualitative technique known as phenomenographic analysis to find those who studied in a deep or surface way. The deep-processing students, who commonly used multiple study methods, not only succeeded in the class but also had better recall. Students who relied on a memorization-heavy surface approach to learning had limited recall and tended to perform poorly in the class. These results strongly suggest that by encouraging students to integrate their studying by using multiple methods educators can improve both student grades and recall of complex topics.

Author's contacts: pward@wvsom.edu