Background: This study explored whether first-year medical students make deliberate decisions about attending nonrequired lectures. If so, it sought to identify factors that influence these decisions, specifically addressing the potential impact of electronic materials.
Method: Medical students who completed first-year studies between 2004 and 2006 responded to an open-ended survey question about their own lecture-attendance decisions. Responses were coded to capture major themes. Students' ratings of the electronic materials were also examined.
Results: Most respondents made deliberate attendance decisions. Decisions were influenced by previous experiences with the lecturer, predictions of what would occur during the session itself, personal learning preferences, and learning needs at that particular time, with the overriding goal of maximizing learning. Access to electronic materials did not influence students' choices.
Conclusions: Fears that the increasing availability of technology-enhanced educational materials has a negative impact on lecture attendance seem unfounded.