A1 Journal article – refereed
The Role of Prior Knowledge and Students’ Perceptions in Learning of Biomedical Sciences

List of Authors: Markus Nivala, Jorma Paranko, Hans Gruber, Erno Lehtinen
Publisher: Springer
Publication year: 2016
Journal: Medical Science Educator
Volume number: 26
Issue number: 4
Number of pages: 8
eISSN: 2156-8650


The present study investigates whether medical students’ prior knowledge
and perceptions about basic biomedical sciences predict learning of
these topics at early phases of the medical education. Participants (N = 115)
were first year medical students at the University of Turku (Finland).
The data consisted of a student perception questionnaire, entrance
examination results, and the examination scores of the first year
preclinical courses. Compared to the students having only education at
the upper secondary school level (n = 58), the students with prior university studies in sciences (n = 57)
performed better in the first year course examinations. Out of the four
entrance examination subtests, only the subtest in biology predicted
performance in the first year course examinations. In terms of students’
perceptions, the students rated the courses that dealt with the human
body on microscopic or molecular level the least useful and the most
difficult. Yet, the perception of usefulness had no effect on
examination performance. The results emphasize the role prior knowledge
especially in biology has for learning of medicine. Furthermore, the
first year medical students seem to value topics that are more closely
related to their everyday experiences and, therefore, perhaps less
abstract. The courses on cellular and molecular levels were rated
notably low with regard to usefulness. The relevance of cellular and
molecular biology to medical profession should be communicated more
clearly to the students. Furthermore, basic science topics may benefit
from a more integrative pedagogical approach in which the biomedical
concepts are conceptualized in diagnostic practice.

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Last updated on 2019-29-01 at 13:59