A qualitative content analysis of "problem students": how can we identify and manage them?

BMC Res Notes. 2020 Dec 17;13(1):566. doi: 10.1186/s13104-020-05393-8.


Objectives: Problem students is one of the important issues in medical education. This study aimed to identify the problem students and the ways for managing these students from the educational experts view. Purposive sampling was used, and data collection continued until data saturation was achieved. Data analysis was performed by the content analysis method based on the Heidegger approach. We interviewed 12 educational experts who had a history of dealing with "problem students".

Results: After data analysis, five main themes and 28 categories, and 164 codes were extracted. The reasons for changing a student to a problem students was: student self-regulation skills, multilayer interactions, curriculum failure, identification policy and supportive solutions. The results indicated that despite revision in the curriculum, there were shortcomings in identification and management of problem students. According to participants, existence of a comprehensive system and a capable counseling center can identify the problem student sooner. On the other hand by improving self-regulation skills, active teaching methods and frequent formative evaluation and the use of supportive strategies, problem student can be encouraged to complete their education successfully. This study emphasized faculty development, reviewing the faculty member recruitment, strengthening counseling centers, improving the exams.

Keywords: Medical education; Medical student; Problem students.