The Medical Student Experience With Prework

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of medical education and curricular development






active learning; expectancy-value theory; motivation; prework


OBJECTIVES: The objective of this study is to better understand the medical student experience with prework to determine what factors influence their motivation to complete prework. INTRODUCTION: Medical education has been shifting to more active learning-type sessions such as flipped classrooms but these activities are unsuccessful when students do not complete the associated prework. The literature is lacking on why students do not complete prework and what would motivate them to do so. This qualitative study aims to answer those questions through the view of expectancy-value motivation theory. METHODS: Thirteen preclinical medical students participated in a semistructured basic interview study investigating their experience with prework. Interview transcripts were coded, and codes were clustered and analyzed for themes. RESULTS: Students develop particular routines they find successful for their studies. They explain how time in their schedules and the amount of time prework takes to complete plays a role in their study environment which must be favorable in order to complete prework. Students view video prework more favorably compared to reading assignments. Students note how the opinions of their peers influence their decision to complete prework. Each of these factors influences student motivation to complete prework. CONCLUSION: This study finds that motivation to complete prework is influenced by the environment, format, and use of prework, student interest and prior knowledge, and peer influence. The combination of these factors determines whether a student believes they are capable of completing prework and if they find it valuable. In order to increase motivation to complete prework, faculty should consider how to address these factors in a way that students are able to fit prework into their study routines. This study provides the first step in understanding the medical student experience with prework and suggests directions for future studies to maximize student motivation to complete prework.


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