The lived experience of medical students in a constructivist eLearning environment. A qualitative analysis

O’Loughlin, K. (2013) The lived experience of medical students in a constructivist eLearning environment. A qualitative analysis. In: 6th scientific meeting of the Irish Network of Medical Educators (INMED), 21st February to Friday 22nd February 2013, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland.


Background Computer-based learning environments are increasingly utilised in various formats at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. In the last year we have introduced eLearning resources for students to facilitate learning in certain components of the psychiatry undergraduate curriculum in University College Dublin. The transition from a teacher-centred to learner-centred approach to curriculum delivery inherent in this move inevitably brings with it a wide range both individual and collective student experience. AIM The aim was to characterize the lived experience of medical students in an innovative online learning environment with regard to its emotional, cognitive and behavioural dimensions. Specifically, a key consideration was to determine how these experiences related to the eLearning process. METHOD This study was situated within the qualitative research paradigm. Semistructured interviews were conducted with student eLearners to elicit their experiences. Exploratory thematic analysis of data was carried out and an interpretive approach was used. A constant-comparison method of examining relationships between the emerging themes and current research in the field was undertaken. RESULTS Learning online is held to be an interactive multisensory experience. The integration of interactive instructional material into the multimedia platform is valued by students as is the opportunity to establish links with fellow students and tutors. Both intrinsic and extrinsic motivational factors are emergent with a sense of control over learning revealed as an important facet of intrinsic motivation influencing student engagement with eLearning. The breadth of emotional experience is noteworthy, as is its association with elements of the student learning environment. Negative affective experiences, such as anxiety are associated with extrinsic motivational factors influencing engagement with eLearning. ‘Time’ considerations are paramount as these new ways of learning emerge. CONCLUSION This study highlights a broad spectrum of individual experiences in a novel eLearning environment and hints at the complexity of the interaction between cognitive, emotional and behavioural elements when students undertake such learning. The results have implications for the development and delivery of eLearning in psychiatry at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. Attention is drawn to new experiences inherent in the transition from a learner-centred to teacher-centred approach to curriculum delivery. This serves to highlight the importance of a coherent alignment of learning objectives, learning strategy and assessment method if motivation for engagement in eLearning is to be maintained.

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INMED 2013 Book Of Abstracts.pdf

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