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Table of Contents
Year : 2021  |  Volume : 70  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 130-135

Educational resources used by 1st-year medical students

1 Department of Physiology, Santiniketan Medical College, Bolpur, West Bengal, India
2 Department of Anatomy, Rampurhat Government Medical College and Hospital, Rampurhat, West Bengal, India
3 Department of Physiology, Raiganj Government Medical College and Hospital, Raiganj, West Bengal, India
4 Department of Psychiatry, Fakir Mohan Medical College and Hospital, Balasore, Odisha, India
5 Freelance Medical Writer, Kolkata, West Bengal, India

Date of Submission31-Jan-2020
Date of Acceptance25-Jul-2021
Date of Web Publication23-Sep-2021

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Himel Mondal
Department of Physiology, Santiniketan Medical College, Bolpur - 731 204, West Bengal
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/JASI.JASI_16_20

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Introduction: A dynamic teaching–learning environment is being established in Indian medical institutions with the implementation of a competency-based medical education curriculum. This new curriculum may change the previous pattern of usage of educational resources by the medical students. We aimed to explore the pattern of usage of resources by the 1st-year medical students. Material and Methods: We invited 1st-year medical students of three medical colleges for an online survey. There were 17 statements in the questionnaire with 5-point Likert-type response options to collect data on the preference of type of classes, frequency of collection of notes, pattern of reading, and usage of multimedia. Results: A total of 127 (response rate 42.6%) students participated in the survey. Practical classes were the most preferred type of class followed by small group teaching. Students preferred to take notes from 1-h lectures than making notes while reading books. Traditional textbooks were the most preferred material read by the students followed by the question–answer type book. E-book downloaded on the smartphone was preferred over the online e-book. Internet searches and watching YouTube™ videos were popular than watching e-content provided with the textbook. Discussion and Conclusion: In the age of smartphones and the internet, traditional learning resources are still popular among 1st-year medical students. However, learning is reinforced by widely available electronic content. Hence, blended teaching with both traditional and e-resource may be considered by medical teachers.

Keywords: Learning, medical education, medical students, reading, smartphone

How to cite this article:
Mondal H, Dutta S, Mondal S, Sahoo MR, Saha K, Mondal S. Educational resources used by 1st-year medical students. J Anat Soc India 2021;70:130-5

How to cite this URL:
Mondal H, Dutta S, Mondal S, Sahoo MR, Saha K, Mondal S. Educational resources used by 1st-year medical students. J Anat Soc India [serial online] 2021 [cited 2021 Dec 3];70:130-5. Available from: https://www.jasi.org.in/text.asp?2021/70/3/130/326424

  Introduction Top

A competency-based, dynamic, and learner-centric undergraduate curriculum has been introduced to train Indian medical graduates.[1] Learning basic medical sciences has been enriched with early clinical exposure and self-directed learning.[2],[3] A sudden change in the curriculum is a challenging situation for both teachers and students.[4] Traditional textbooks and manuals may lack targeted content and arrangement. The teachers may get adequate time for collecting resources for teaching. However, the students may not get that much time to collect resources for learning a topic.

Wynter et al. have explored the resources used by medical students in a sample of Australian medical students. They found that the majority of the students learn a topic with the help of textbooks and written notes along with the use of varieties of e-learning tools.[5]

Punja et al. have ascertained the perception of Indian 1st-year medical students for learning anatomy and found that small group teaching and early clinical exposure were the most favored mode of learning.[6]

To the best of our knowledge, no study has been conducted to find out the resources used by the 1st-year medical students after the introduction of the competency-based medical education curriculum. Hence, in this study, we aimed to know the pattern of usage of different resources by 1st-year medical students. The knowledge would help the teachers to understand how students are learning a topic. This would facilitate the teachers to teach in a balanced manner with the blending of different resources.

  Material and Methods Top

This questionnaire-based, cross-sectional, observational study was conducted with 1st-year medical students.

Survey questionnaire

After reviewing relevant literature about the resources used by medical students,[5],[6],[7],[8],[9],[10] we designed a questionnaire that collects data on (a) preference of classes, (b) frequency of collection of notes, (c) pattern of reading, and (d) frequency of multimedia usage. The questionnaire was composed of 17 statements with 5-point Likert-type response options. The questionnaire is available in [Annexure 1]. The questionnaire was created on Google Forms, an online platform which can be used to collect survey response.[11] The questionnaire has an informed consent statement at the beginning and agreement to the consent allows a user to submit the survey response.


The survey links were probably exposed (we did not distribute the links directly to the students) to 298 1st-year medical students (maximum number of 1st-year medical students in three medical colleges) of three government-run medical colleges in Eastern India.

Data collection method

A quick response (QR) code was generated with the web link of the survey questionnaire, and posters were made with the QR code with a message for voluntary participation in the survey. The posters were put up on a wall that is easily visible to the 1st-year medical students. They were also informed that an online survey is being conducted on which they can provide their response without revealing their identity. Willing students scanned the QR code which lands them to the consent form for participation and the questionnaire. The submitted response was collected from Google Forms after a period of 1 week. After collecting the data, the questionnaire was closed for further response in Google Forms.

Statistical analysis

The survey response was coded for making it quantitative data with the extreme agreement as 5 and extreme disagreement as 1 (i.e. strongly agree = 5, agree = 4, neutral/neither agree nor disagree = 3, disagree = 2, strongly disagree = 1). Data was presented in percentages and mean and standard deviation. The mean between males and females was compared by unpaired t-test. For the entire statistical test, a P < 0.05 was considered statistically significant. The data coding and analysis were carried out in Microsoft Excel® 2010 (Microsoft Corporation, USA) and GraphPad Prism 6.01 (GraphPad Software, CA, USA).

  Results Top

A total of 127 students (female 61 [48.03%], male 66 [51.97%]) with mean age 18.64 ± 1.25 years (female 18.75 ± 1.36 years and male 18.64 ± 1.25 years) participated in the survey (response rate 42.6%).

The practical classes were the most preferred type of class, followed by small group discussions [Figure 1].
Figure 1: Preference of 1-h lectures, practical classes, and SGD in 1st-year medical students. SGD: Small-group discussions

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Taking notes from the 1-h lecture is popular among students. However, they also make written notes while reading a book for learning a topic [Figure 2].
Figure 2: Frequency of collecting notes by 1st-year medical students

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Reading a textbook is the most frequently used method for learning a topic. Searching on the internet was more frequently used than reading e-books. Medical journals are rarely accessed by 1st-year medical students [Figure 3].
Figure 3: Frequency of type of reading in 1st-year medical students

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Among the e-contents, tutorial video from YouTube™ was more frequently accessed than textbook-provided animated videos [Figure 4].
Figure 4: Frequency of usage of various types of multimedia in 1st-year medical students

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The usage of resources by female and male students is shown in [Table 1]. Female students make notes (P < 0.001) and take notes (P = 0.04) from 1-h lecture more than male students. Male students read question–answer type books (P = 0.03), watch tutorial videos provided in the textbook (P = 0.02), and online/YouTube™ videos (P = 0.006) more than female students.
Table 1: Resource usage in female and male first-year medical students

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  Discussion Top

Type of class

We found that practical classes are the most preferred type of class by the 1st-year medical students. The underlying reason may be the facility of hands-on training on the topic that students learn. Small group discussion, another method of learning, is also preferred more than the didactic lecture. This is not a surprising finding, and it is corroborative with other studies which report less preference of 1-h lecture.[12],[13],[14],[15] However, the 1-h lecture is unavoidable as it facilitates knowledge dispersion among a large group of students at a time. Indian medical colleges, mostly running with a minimum number of medical teachers,[16] may not afford to cut down the 1-h lecture classes. However, it may be made interesting by the use of multimedia and interactive teaching. Teachers can even make the collection of attendance more interesting by the application of newer methods.[17]

Collection of notes

Students like to take notes from the topic taught in the 1-h lecture classes. This preference helps the students in studying as they can sort out important topics from voluminous textbooks, remember and connect between topics, and get a chance to review it after the class.[18] Students also favor making notes from other sources. Female students tend to take notes from the 1-h lecture and make written notes more than male students [Table 1]. Medical teachers may provide scope for writing down important parts of their lectures.[19] Students rarely collect PowerPoint™ slides from the teachers. There may be multiple factors underlying this finding. As the students are writing notes from the class; hence, they may not need the slides. In addition, students may feel shy in asking for the slides. However, teachers may upload the slides in any free repository or popular social media such as SlideShare for students and teachers. The concept of sharing educational resource before conduct of the class is a part of a trending method of learning called flipped classroom.[20]

Reading trends

Indian 1st-year medical students prefer to read textbooks for learning a topic than question–answer type books and e-resources. Among the students, male students read question–answer type books more than female students [Table 1]. All other reading patterns did not show any gender difference. This is corroborative to a study conducted by Ahmad and Asif.[21] E-books are available online or in downloaded form. We found that students prefer to read the e-books in downloaded form. The usage of e-book (both online and downloaded) is less preferred over searching the topic on the internet. The reason behind this behavior may be easily available information from search results provided by search engines. Although there are various authentic sources of educational material on the internet, the search result may not find the appropriate one always.[22] Hence, students may be guided on how to search for authentic educational material online. 1st-year medical students rarely read medical journals. However, to know new researches on the subjects, we need to refer to medical journals. Hence, students may be encouraged to browse medical journals from the library and the online repository or freely available bibliographic databases such as Directory of Open Access Journals and PubMed Central.

Usage of multimedia

We found that watching online videos on YouTube™ is more preferred than the multimedia provided in the textbook. Male students tend to watch videos, be it textbook-provided or YouTube™, more than female students [Table 1]. Overall, watching YouTube™ videos has been increased for academic learning in recent times.[23] Medical teachers and institutions may gradually build a collection of authentic tutorial videos available free on YouTube™. These videos not only make learning interesting, but it may also help in revising a topic or may be helpful for students who remain absent in a class. Smartphone use has been increased in recent years for teaching and learning due to the easy availability of smartphones and internet connection.[24] These new technologies should be adapted to make the students more interested. However, a perfect balance is necessary between traditional and modern-age technology of teaching.[25]

Novelty and limitations of the study

In this study, we have explored the resources used by 1st-year medical students for learning basic medical science after the introduction of the competency-based undergraduate medical curriculum. This information would help the medical teachers in designing their teaching strategies. This online survey did not collect any identification of the respondents, except the age and sex to reduce any response bias. However, this pilot study was conducted with a sample of three medical colleges from Eastern India. A future study is needed with participants from multiple colleges all over India for a more generalized result.

  Conclusion Top

Traditional learning resources such as reading textbooks, taking notes from lecture classes, and making written notes are still popular among the 1st-year medical students. Along with these, students watch online tutorial videos and use smartphone applications for learning basic medical sciences. Medical teachers may use a combination of both traditional and new technologies to make teaching more acceptable to the students.


We thank all the students who took part in the survey and provided their response.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  Annexure Top

  References Top

UG Curriculum. Medical Council of India. Available from: https://www.mciindia.org/CMS/information-desk/for-colleges/ug-curriculum.  Back to cited text no. 1
Kar M, Kar C, Roy H, Goyal P. Early clinical exposure as a learning tool to teach neuroanatomy for first year MBBS students. Int J Appl Basic Med Res 2017;7:S38-41.  Back to cited text no. 2
Premkumar K, Vinod E, Sathishkumar S, Pulimood AB, Umaefulam V, Prasanna Samuel P, et al. Self-directed learning readiness of Indian medical students: A mixed method study. BMC Med Educ 2018;18:134.  Back to cited text no. 3
Basheer A. Competency-based medical education in India: Are we ready? J Curr Res Sci Med 2019;5:1-3.  Back to cited text no. 4
  [Full text]  
Wynter L, Burgess A, Kalman E, Heron JE, Bleasel J. Medical students: What educational resources are they using? BMC Med Educ 2019;19:36.  Back to cited text no. 5
Punja R, Sumalatha S, Hosapatna M. Perspective of the 1st year undergraduate medical students in learning anatomy. J Anat Soc India 2019;68:129-32.  Back to cited text no. 6
  [Full text]  
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  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3], [Figure 4]

  [Table 1]


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