Motivation as an independent and a dependent variable in medical education: a review of the literature.
OBJECTIVES Motivation is one of the most important factors for learning and achievement. The perceived value of the task, perceptions of self-efficacy and beliefs about control of learning are the main determinants of motivation. They are highly influenced by the individual's personal history and especially by significant past experiences. We assessed the impact of training periods in the emergency department on the motivation of health care students to learn in the field of emergency medicine. METHODS A survey was conducted in 2008 with 112 undergraduate medical students and 201 undergraduate nursing students attending an emergency medicine academic programme. At the beginning of the course, the students completed an anonymous 26-item questionnaire to assess their motivational orientations. RESULTS Perceived task value was higher for students who had previously attended a training period in the emergency department (P = 0.002). Perceived self-efficacy was depressed when the respondent had been confronted with negative outcome events (P < 0.001). Control of learning beliefs was affected negatively in students who had attended a training period in the emergency department (P < 0.001). CONCLUSIONS Motivation is a major contributor to the success of learning. Training periods in the emergency department can have positive and negative impacts on the learning motivation of medical and nursing students in the field of emergency medicine. Ideally, and in terms of increasing motivation, health care students should gain experiential learning in the emergency department before attending a corresponding academic course. During this period, tutors should provide appropriate supervision and feedback in order to support self-efficacy perception and learning control beliefs.