Monitoring and regulation of learning in medical education: the need for predictive cues

Anique B. H. de Bruin*, John Dunlosky, Rodrigo B. Cavalcanti

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

51 Citations (Web of Science)


Context Being able to accurately monitor learning activities is a key element in self-regulated learning in all settings, including medical schools. Yet students' ability to monitor their progress is often limited, leading to inefficient use of study time. Interventions that improve the accuracy of students' monitoring can optimise self-regulated learning, leading to higher achievement. This paper reviews findings from cognitive psychology and explores potential applications in medical education, as well as areas for future research.

Cognitive Psychology Effective monitoring depends on students' ability to generate information (cues') that accurately reflects their knowledge and skills. The ability of these cues' to predict achievement is referred to as cue diagnosticity'. Interventions that improve the ability of students to elicit predictive cues typically fall into two categories: (i) self-generation of cues and (ii) generation of cues that is delayed after self-study. Providing feedback and support is useful when cues are predictive but may be too complex to be readily used.

Application to Medical Education Limited evidence exists about interventions to improve the accuracy of self-monitoring among medical students or trainees. Developing interventions that foster use of predictive cues can enhance the accuracy of self-monitoring, thereby improving self-study and clinical reasoning. First, insight should be gained into the characteristics of predictive cues used by medical students and trainees. Next, predictive cue prompts should be designed and tested to improve monitoring and regulation of learning. Finally, the use of predictive cues should be explored in relation to teaching and learning clinical reasoning.

Conclusions Improving self-regulated learning is important to help medical students and trainees efficiently acquire knowledge and skills necessary for clinical practice. Interventions that help students generate and use predictive cues hold the promise of improved self-regulated learning and achievement. This framework is applicable to learning in several areas, including the development of clinical reasoning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)575-584
Number of pages10
JournalMedical Education
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017



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