Low academic performance in medical students associated to poor study habits


Low academic performance in medical students associated to poor study habits

Bajo rendimiento académico en estudiantes de Medicina asociado a deficientes hábitos de estudio


Carmen Rosa Carmona Pentón1* http://orcid.org/0000-0003-0321-5309
Claribel Plain Pazos1 https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6897-6235
Blanca Agramonte Albalat1 https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1461-0841
Jorge Luis Paz Treto2 https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3508-4251


1 Villa Clara University of Medical Sciences of Sagua la Grande School of Medicine. Cuba.
2 Villa Clara University of Medical Sciences. "Mártires del 9 de Abril" University Hospital. Sagua la Grande. Villa Clara. Cuba.


* Author for correspondence. Email: carmencp@infomed.sld.cu




Every university aims for the academic success of its students. Deficiencies in the teaching-learning process can be manifested in low academic performance and/or school dropout. The authors of this research paper refer to the need to design didactic strategies to improve study habits.

MeSH: educational measurement; learning; students, medical; education, medical.


Toda universidad tiene como objetivo el éxito académico de sus estudiantes. Las deficiencias en el proceso docente educativo se pueden manifestar en rendimiento académico bajo y/o abandono escolar. Los autores de esta comunicación refieren la necesidad de diseñar estrategias didácticas para mejorar los hábitos de estudio.

DeSC: evaluación educacional; aprendizaje; estudiantes de Medicina; educación médica.



Submitted: 24/05/2019
Accepted: 04/01/2021



Every year thousands of students face the challenge of passing academic subjects to acquire the necessary skills in the development of their professional activities. According to learning theories, student´s life success on the way to the profession depends on many factors, including socio-cultural ones, for their comprehensive training and motivation.(1)

Every university aims for the academic success of its students; deficiencies in the teaching-learning process can manifest as forms of low performance and school dropout. The Medicine degree demands an application with the highest demands due to the characteristics of the profession; therefore, the parties concerned need to possess values such as integrity, responsibility and a spirit of sacrifice. Thus, the medical student manages to train as a competent professional.

Academic performance is the response capacity that an individual has to previously established educational stimuli, objectives and purposes; it is the expression that allows knowing the existence of quality in education at any level. If it is low, it means that the student has not adequately and completely acquired the knowledge, in addition not to having the tools and skills to solve necessary problems related to the study material.(2)

Currently, poor academic performance in medical science students has become a professional problem.(3) Students with poor academic performance have two main difficulties: they do not know how to study and they do not know how to learn.(4) Therefore, the authors in this research paper, they believe that teachers should focus their work on developing didactic strategies that improve the skills to "learn to learn" in students.

Study habits are the most powerful predictor when referring to academic success, above the memory capacity or intelligence that one possesses. The basic aspects that make up study habits are: technique, organization, time and concentration.(5)

In Sagua la Grande Faculty of Medicine of Villa Clara University of Medical Sciences, in the second semester of the 2018-2019 school year, 51 second-year medical students (49.51%) were evaluated as poor and average in the first evaluation, corresponding to week 9 as established by Resolution 2/2018,(6) in the subjects Microbiology and Parasitology, and Medical Genetics.

On this problem, from the year teaching staff it was decided to investigate the causes of these results. A questionnaire was carried out for the students, where the main causes were centered on inadequate study habits:

  • They do not study systematically.
  • Schedules are not met and the material to be studied is not planned.
  • They do not use meaningful learning techniques such as underlining, comparative and summary tables, or concept maps.
  • They do not make notes on the content taught.
  • They memorize content instead of applying knowledge.
  • They are easily distracted.

When observing these results, the authors consider that it is a challenge for teachers of medical sciences to promote tutoring as a teaching activity in the teaching process that stimulates not only cognitive learning but also that they carry out orientation tasks to improve study habits and techniques, as well as the development of skills and attitudes of responsibility and self-demand, which allow raising the self-esteem of students, and thus academic performance. Having good study habits will make possible for the student to no longer need the permanent guidance of their teachers and to become someone capable of studying on their own and becoming a student with autonomy, which will have an impact on its present performance and on its future as a professional.



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5. Gallego Villa OM. Características de los hábitos de estudio, la ansiedad y la depresión en estudiantes de psicología. Rev Iberoam de Psicología: Ciencia y Tecnología [Internet]. 2010 [citado 24/05/2019];3(2):[aprox. 8 p.]. Disponible en: https://dialnet.unirioja.es/servlet/articulo?codigo=4905139

6. Ministerio de Educación Superior. Reglamento del Trabajo Docente y Metodológico de la Educación Superior. Resolución No. 2/2018. La Habana: MES; 2018.



Declaration of interests

The authors declare no conflict of interest.



Contribution of the authors

Carmen Rosa Carmona Pentón and Claribel Plaín Pazos: participated in the preparation of the manuscript in all its stages.
Blanca Agramonte Albalat: participated in the writing and revision of the manuscript.
Jorge Luis Paz Treto: participated in the bibliographic search and writing of the manuscript.



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