Seeing beyond variables: applying a person-centered approach to identifying regulation strategy profiles among Finnish preclinical medical and dental students
Keywords:Medical education, regulation of learning, longitudinal study
Background: High-quality learning during medical school and beyond requires appropriate study strategies and taking responsibility for one’s studies, thus self-regulation of one’s learning. In contrast to traditional studies focusing on a variable-centered approach, a person-centered approach to regulation strategies was utilized.
Methods: The participants were 162 Finnish medical and dental students who answered the regulation scale of the Inventory of Learning Styles at three measurement points. First, the functionality of the scale was analyzed in Finnish medical education context. Latent profile analyses were used to examine regulation strategy profiles. Last, the connections of these profiles with the study success were investigated.
Results: The analyses yielded a three-factor solution, which was reliable across time. Four profiles of regulation strategies were identified and they were found to be connected to study success: Students with the lowest self-regulation and increasing lack of regulation performed worse than the other groups.
Conclusion: The use of a person-centered approach along with variable-centered approach increases understanding of the complex nature of learning in higher education. Person-centered approach could be used as a tool for supporting student learning and to help early diagnosing of learning difficulties, since it enables individualization of students with different regulation strategy profiles.
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