Using Logbooks to Enhance Students’ Learning: Lessons From a Mixed-methods Study in an Undergraduate Surgical Rotation


Background: Logbooks are frequently used in medical education to enhance and monitor students’ learning. However, some barriers that may diminish their benefits have been reported. This study aims to evaluate the usefulness of logbooks to students’ learning and identify the factors, which may contribute to their outcomes in learning milieus.

Methods: The study used a mixed-methods approach. Quantitative and qualitative data were collected from the medical students in the fourth- and sixth-year classes and their teachers in the department of surgery at the Faculty of Medicine at University of Tabuk in the academic year 2016–2017. Data were collected using questionnaires, focused group discussions, and personal interviews.

Results: Eighty-nine (49 fourth year and 40 sixth year) students and six teachers participated in the study. Logbooks were perceived as useful to students’ learning by 83.3% of the teachers and 75.3% of the students. Logbooks enhanced students’ learning through identification of areas of weaknesses, encouraged seeing more patients’ problems and reading in-depth about some topics, and improved students’ writing skills. Barriers to learning from logbooks included poor-quality feedback, no opportunities for feedback discussion, and unfair marking. Differences in the students’ perceptions of the usefulness of logbooks were observed based on their learning stage.

Conclusion: Logbooks are useful to students’ learning in many aspects; however, certain factors could diminish their benefits. Students’ attitude toward the logbook was more favorable during their early clinical experience. Faculty development programs and careful supervision of students’ work may improve the outcome of logbooks in clinical placements.

Keywords: logbooks, clinical teaching, written feedback, surgery, Saudi Arabia

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