Factors Associated with Successful Self-Directed Learning Using Individualized Learning Plans During Pediatric Residency

Su-Ting Terry Li, Daniel J Tancredi, John Patrick T Co, Daniel C. West

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Objective: The aim of this study was to determine whether resident or program characteristics are associated with effective self-directed learning of residents. Methods: A cross-sectional survey of pediatric and medicine/pediatric residents and program directors from a nationally representative sample of residency programs was conducted. Self-directed learning efficacy was measured by resident-reported progress on learning goals from their most recent individualized learning plan (ILP). Multilevel linear regression models were used to analyze the relationship between learner and program characteristics and self-directed learning efficacy of residents. Results: All program directors of participating programs (N = 46) completed the survey; the response rate from residents was 57% (992/1739). At the time of the survey, 78% of residents had previously written an ILP. Most residents achieved moderate self-directed learning efficacy. The most important factors associated with greater self-directed learning efficacy included using a system to track one's own progress in achieving learning goals, higher score on a propensity toward lifelong learning scale, and reporting greater confidence in self-directed learning abilities. Program characteristics, including program-level support for ILPs, had little or mixed association with resident self-directed learning efficacy. Conclusions: The most important factors associated with effective self-directed learning were resident characteristics. Our findings imply that residency programs should invest their limited resources in curricula that help residents develop measurable goals and systems for tracking progress toward goal attainment. Since propensity toward lifelong learning was an important factor, medical schools and residency training programs should enhance their efforts to develop this characteristic in learners.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)124-130
Number of pages7
JournalAcademic Pediatrics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2010


  • individualized learning plan
  • medical education
  • self-directed learning
  • survey

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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