• Vol. 36 No. 9, 751–755
  • 15 September 2007

A Comparison of Learning Strategies, Orientations and Conceptions of Learning of First-year Medical Students in a Traditional and an Innovative Curriculum



Introduction: Students adapt their learning strategies, orientations and conceptions to differences in the learning environment. The new curriculum of the Faculty of Medicine, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka, which commenced in 2005, puts greater emphasis on student-centred learning. The aim of this study was to compare the learning strategies, orientations and conceptions measured by means of a validated Sri Lankan version of the Inventory of Learning Styles (ILS) at the end of the first academic year for a traditional curriculum student group and a new curriculum student group. Materials and Methods: The Adyayana Rata Prakasha Malawa (ARPM) 130-item Sinhala version of the ILS was administered to students of the traditional curriculum and the new curriculum at the end of their first academic year respectively. Mean scale scores of the 2 groups were compared using independent sample t-test. Results: Students of the new curriculum reported the use of critical processing, concrete processing and memorising and rehearsing strategies significantly more than those in the traditional curriculum group. With respect to learning orientations, personal interest scores were significantly higher for the new curriculum students while reporting of ambiguity was significantly lower among them. Conclusion: The results favour the assumption that changes made to the organisation of subject content and instructional and assessment methods have a positive impact on students’ use of learning strategies and motivation.

During the learning process, learners are found to use specific combinations or patterns of learning activities which are termed learning strategies.1,2 It is believed that the quality of learning outcomes achieved by students is dependent to a considerable extent on the learning activities employed by them. These learning strategies can be broadly divided into (a) cognitive processing strategies, e.g. memorising and rehearsing, critical processing and concrete processing and (b) regulating strategies, e.g. a self-regulated strategy, in which the students perform most regulation activities themselves; an externally regulated strategy, in which students let their learning process be regulated by teachers, books, etc., and lack of regulation, when students are unable to regulate their learning processes by themselves, but also experience insufficient support from the external regulation as provided by teachers and the learning environment.2

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