Study habits in medical education: a question of continuous estimation particularly in emerging situations

EDUMECENTRO 2022;14:e1766



Study habits in medical education: a question of continuous estimation particularly in emerging situations

Hábitos de estudio en la educación médica: cuestión de estimación continua particularmente en situaciones emergentes


Yordanka Caridad Herrera Robaina1*
Esther Ribalta García1
Yanelis Álvarez Pérez1


1 Villa Clara University of Medical Sciences. Faculty of Medical Sciences of Sagua la Grande. Villa Clara. Cuba.


*Author for correspondence. Email:




In Cuban medical education, the need to develop study habits in students is recognized in order to reinforce educational processes. The topic becomes prominent due to the state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which required the reorganization of the teaching-learning process and motivated the rethinking of new strategies to continue the academic year using the distance learning modality. It is the objective of the authors to reflect on study habits and their implication in the efficiency of the training of future health professionals.

MeSH: learning; students; education, distance; education, medical.


En la educación médica cubana se reconoce la necesidad de desarrollar en los estudiantes hábitos de estudio para con ello reforzar los procesos educativos. El tema adquiere preminencia debido al estado de emergencia decretado por la pandemia de la COVID-19 lo cual exigió la reorganización del proceso enseñanza aprendizaje y motivó replantearse nuevas estrategias para continuar el curso académico utilizando la modalidad de educación a distancia. Es objetivo de los autores reflexionar sobre los hábitos de estudio y su impronta por la implicación en la eficiencia de la formación de los futuros profesionales de la salud.

DeCS: aprendizaje; estudiantes; educación a distancia; educación médica.



Submitted: 15/11/2020
Acceppted: 17/02/2022



Study habits are a widely addressed problem at any level of education because they are an influential factor in the efficiency where knowledge is acquired; they are behaviors that a student carries out regularly when carrying out their academic tasks or when studying, which, when continuously repeated, become a habit, and become part of the individual's habitual behavior.(1)

The establishment of study patterns or habits has advantages: it increases the amount of material that can be learned in a unit of time, it reduces the number of repetitions until it is assimilated and the time that could be dedicated to a specific task; time is distributed among the various activities, moments for rest are established, stress and anxiety levels that can be generated by the development of certain activities are reduced, and work is prevented from accumulating for the end of the day or the period and thus can devote time to other activities of interest.(2)

Current education demands that young university students appropriate a growing number of knowledge as part of their training that scientifically prepares them to practice their profession; so it is essential that they have a solid base of study habits that facilitate learning. The inadequacy of these, no doubt, they will negatively influence the activities carried out in their academic training.

Success in study is not only a function of intelligence and effort; but also in addition to the efficiency of study habits. Regardless of the academic degree held, study habits are transformed into necessary activities for the acquisition, use and control of knowledge. Its quality and efficiency are largely due to the results in the academic journey as well as the gradual foundation of the bases for professional competence and improvement of the person.(3)

In the case of medical education in Cuba, current curricula require that university students, in addition to learning theories and/or concepts in university classrooms, develop practical skills; therefore, from the first year, special attention is paid to the development of the in-service training, which recognizes the need for students to «learn to learn», while the work of the teacher must be aimed at «teaching to learn», that is, teaching them to become autonomous, independent, which implies the ability to reflect on the way they learn and act accordingly, self-regulating the learning process itself through the use of flexible and appropriate strategies that they transfer and adapt to new situations.(4)

Although this is not a new reality, the truth is that the issue is currently gaining prominence due to the state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which required educational institutions to reorganize teaching and training processes. It motivated to rethink the analysis of core issues of the educational teaching process such as study habits.

In Cuban medical education, the reorganization to continue the academic year involved the use of the distance learning modality to continue the acquisition of knowledge foreseen in the stage, together with an intensive development of research activities by workers and students to face the pandemic that was complex, mainly, in the students of the first years of the careers.

The continuation of the process in these circumstances constituted a strength from the institutional point of view; Having a virtual environment made it possible to make available to university students the necessary content to guarantee self-learning and independent study, taking into account that the support of the different curricular activities in the use of communications and information technologies is a premise of the study plan.

This type of virtual teaching constitutes a challenge for managers, professors and university students, due to the necessary resources for its implementation, in addition to the availability of the Internet, the ability of the teacher to teach distance courses, the management of virtual platforms by students and teachers, a technological academic support at the university, etc.(5)

Distance learning involves other challenges linked to the need to guide students on issues related to study habits.

In Sagua la Grande Faculty of Medical Sciences , Villa Clara, in a group interview carried out with first and second year university students of the Medicine degree about their experiences regarding the study at this stage, they were appreciated, given the requirement of greater autonomy, difficulties in planning the study activity daily by preparing schedules, which prevented them from completing the oriented activities on time; in addition, problems were evident in reaching their own conclusions, limitations in the exploration of the contents of the books and in synthesizing what was studied, which prevented having an organized study strategy; they studied tired or anxious at times, at other times they ended up copying other classmates' summaries.

The problems related to the way in which the university student faces the study is not new, this is a reality recognized and widely debated by the teachers of medical education, especially in the students of the first years of the degree, which increased in this period.

A detailed analysis of this situation allows us to consider that students who enter this level of education whose ages range from 17 to 18 years, due to their evolutionary characteristics, they have a cognitive development that allows them to work at an abstract level, but if they do not know well the skills to be used, they can hardly operate with them. This reality allows affirming the need to, on the one hand, accurately and adequately guides the student towards independent study in order to achieve high academic performance; and on the other, to form habits and attitudes so that they can achieve better student performance.

In this sense, the way towards excellence in medical education requires changing perspectives considering the instruction of students, help and guidance in the process of comprehensive training of the individual and their study habits as a basic task. To achieve this goal, it is imperative that they receive a more individualized and concrete guidance on the subject of study habits in the form of workshops, courses or other modalities. It is transcendental that they know ways to organize the study activity using different methods and techniques, which consciously applied to their actions, become habits that help them in any circumstance to facilitate and optimize the learning process.



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2. Enríquez Villota M, Fajardo Escobar M, Garzón Velázquez F. Una revisión general a los hábitos y técnicas de estudio en el ámbito universitario. Rev Psicogente [Internet]. 2015 [citado 28/09/2020];18(33):[aprox. 23 p.]. Disponible en:

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4. Tejera Delgado I, Núñez García E. Comportamiento del estudio independiente en estudiantes de primer semestre de la Facultad Piloto de Odontología de la Universidad de Guayaquil. Rev Conrado [Internet]. 2017 [citado 20/09/2020];13(57):[aprox. 8 p.]. Disponible en:

5. Aquino-Canchari CR, Medina-Quispe CI. COVID-19 y la educación en estudiantes de medicina. Rev Cubana de Investig Biomed [Internet]. 2020 [citado 28/09/2020];39(2):[aprox. 4 p.].Disponible en:



Declaration of interests

The authors declare no conflict of interest.



Authors contribution

Yordanka Caridad Herrera Robaina: made the searches, reviewed the literature, and wrote the draft.
Esther Ribalta García and Yanelis Álvarez Pérez: made searches, reviewed the bibliography, and accepted the draft.

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