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Vol. 20 No. 2 (2022): New Horizons: Innovation in Medicine

Rewarding progress: Effective learning strategies through a variable ratio incentive-based approach in medical education

June 22, 2021


Medical students are faced with many unprecedented challenges, one of which is the large amount of material they are required to learn and retain. While effective learning strategies have been thoroughly researched, stress levels amongst medical students remain very high due to perceived failure to retain material, suggesting that novel methods of implementing such existing strategies are required. Aside from stress levels, additional challenges in medical education include the incorporation of inconsistent testing methods and the challenge of accommodating different learning styles and preferences. A more evidence-based approach that aims to cover many learning styles at once may be desirable. The aim of this commentary is to present some of the current learning and teaching strategies utilized within medical education across the world and to promote a novel supplementary approach to medical education involving a variable ratio incentive-based system of active recall and spaced repetition. This system aims to reward small achievements throughout the semester and complements formal structured examinations in order to motivate students. While this model has yet to be tested, we hope to motivate medical faculty to pilot a program with these evidence-based strategies in mind.


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