The Association Between Assigned Independent Learning Schedule and Medical Student Performance on Examinations

Patricia A. Carney, Leslie A. Haedinger, Leslie E. Kahl, Nicole Deiorio, Erin M. Bonura, Jeff A. Kraakevik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Studies of college bound high school students found that these learners base study practices on their beliefs about how they perceive they learn best. Research on study habits and examination performance is absent in medical education but is important because it suggests potential ways a learner can regulate performance. We tested the hypothesis that students whose independent learning time was assigned to occur on Thursday afternoon would perform better on weekly Friday examinations compared to students who have independent study time on Monday afternoon or Tuesday morning. To test this hypothesis, we linked data on timing of assigned independent learning sessions to student demographic characteristics and MCAT scores and then to performance on weekly examinations among 148 medical students undertaking the first 12 months of Oregon Health & Science University’s School of Medicine curriculum. The mean age of students in our study sample was 26.3 years with a range of 22–42. Most identified as female (54.1%), white (76.0%), non-Hispanic (95.9%), and single (74.2%) without children (96.6%). Total MCAT scores averaged 31.2 with a range of 24–40. Mean Friday examination scores ranged from 84.0 to 85.8 in Term 1 (p = 0.23), 84.8 to 85.1 in Term 2 (p = 0.96), and 84.1 to 85.5 in Term 3 (p = 0.40). We found no statistical differences in students’ demographic and MCAT scores according to either term or timing of assigned independent learning sessions. Thus, the timing of assigned independent learning sessions made no difference on weekly examination scores. More research is needed on study patterns to help inform students on how habits could be regulated to help improve performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)253-257
Number of pages5
JournalMedical Science Educator
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017


  • Medical Student exam performance
  • Medical education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Education


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