Author(s): Mysorekar VV
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Abstract BACKGROUND: About 15\% of medical students perform poorly in examinations. This study was done to ascertain the causes for low performance and the effectiveness of counselling and advice regarding study skills in improving performance in a subsequent assessment. METHODS: Of the 353 students who appeared for the first internal assessment examination in pathology, 83 (23.5\%) scored less than 30\% marks. These 83 low-performers were given a questionnaire listing stress-inducing factors and academic problems; 81 filled the questionnaire. Of these, 73 attended sessions on study skills and counselling where they interacted on a one-to-one basis regarding their personal problems. Their performance was evaluated in an internal assessment 6 months later. RESULTS: The low-performers included 52 boys and 29 girls, 19-20 years of age. Non-academic problems contributing to low performance included language problems, problems in adjustment to life outside home, lack of self-confidence, fear of failure and worrying about the future. Academic problems included difficulty in managing study time, lack of concentration while studying, inability to retain what is studied, anxiety before examinations and inability to write an examination. Paired t-test revealed a statistically significant improvement in the post-programme performance of the 73 students who participated in the counselling sessions (p<0.001), while that of the 10 who did not participate in the project, showed no statistically significant difference (p=0.54, Wilcoxon signed rank test). A majority of students felt that the sessions helped to improve their performance (average score 3.83/6.00), change their study behaviour (3.74/6.00) and change their attitude (3.46/6.00). The programme also improved their confidence and self-esteem. CONCLUSION: Low-performers can benefit from tailored remedial programmes which include counselling and training in stress-coping strategies. Copyright 2012, NMJI.
This article was published in Natl Med J India
and referenced in Journal of Health Education Research & Development