Unravelling the process of self-regulated learning of medical specialists in the clinical environment

Katrien Cuyvers*, Vincent Donche, Piet van den Bossche

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Web of Science)



This study aims to unravel the dynamic nature of the process of self-regulated learning (SRL) of medical specialists as it actually unfolds over time in the authentic clinical environment.


A longitudinal multiple case-study design was used, combining multiple data-collection techniques. Long-term observations offered evidence on overt SRL strategies. Physicians' observed behaviours were used as cues for in loco stimulated recall interviews, asking about covert SRL strategies and their thoughts regarding a situation at hand. Field notes and audiotaped stimulated recall interviews were transcribed verbatim and integrated in a longitudinal database to map SRL as it actually unfolds moment-by-moment. The transcripts were analysed from an inter- and intra-individual perspective using Nvivo 12.


Results show a variety of strategies that initiate, advance and evaluate the process of SRL. Different SRL strategies not included in contemporary frameworks on SRL are found and classified as a new category which the authors labelled "learning readiness". Exemplary for an SRL strategy in this category is awareness of learning needs. Results show that SRL in the clinical environment is found as an interrelated, dynamic process unfolding in time with feedback loops between different SRL strategies. Performance is found to play a leading role in driving SRL.


This study contributes empirically to the conceptual understanding of SRL in the clinical environment. The use of a situated, longitudinal methodology, which goes beyond the common path of retrospective self-report questionnaires, adds to the disentanglement of the process of SRL as it actually unfolds in the work environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)375-400
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Workplace Learning
Issue number5
Early online date8 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2021


  • Self-regulated learning
  • Clinical practice
  • Medical specialists
  • Situated longitudinal design
  • Clinical environment

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