Objective: To assess the relationship between clinical experience, learning style and performance in an objective structured clinical examination (OSCE) in medical students at the end of their first clinical year.
Design: Prospective study of undergraduate students taking an OSCE examination at the end of their first clinical year.
Subjects: 194 undergraduate medical students (95 male).
Main outcome measures: Performance in the OSCE examination, the Entwhistle Learning Style Inventory1 and a composite self-reported score of clinical activity during the students first clinical year.
Results: Performance in the OSCE examination was related to well-organized study methods but not to clinical experience. A significant relationship between clinical experience and organized deep-learning styles suggests that knowledge gained from clinical experience is related to learning style.
Conclusions: The relationship between clinical experience and student performance is complex. Well-organized and strategic learning styles appear to influence the benefits of increased clinical exposure. Further work is required to elucidate the most beneficial aspects of clinical teaching.