Background: A learning approach embeds the intention of the student when starting a task and the learning processes and strategies used to carry out a task. Student approaches to learning have been categorized as deep, strategic, and surface.
Aim: To explore the relationships among medical students' learning approaches, gender, and performance on a summative high-stakes clinical performance examination (CPX).
Methods: We measured medical students' learning approaches at the beginning of year four using the Approaches and Study Skills Inventory for Students and compared results with CPX scores.
Results: Student scores in the top two quartiles of the CPX were significantly higher on the deep approach than student CPX scores in the bottom quartile, and student scores in the bottom quartile of the CPX were significantly higher on the surface approach than scores for the other three CPX quartiles. CPX patient-physician interaction scores showed a significant positive correlation with deep approach scores, and CPX overall patient satisfaction scores showed a significant positive correlation with deep and strategic approach scores. Surface approach scores correlated negatively with all CPX score categories.
Conclusion: Approach to learning was associated with performance on a high-stakes CPX.