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Episode host: Jonathan Sherbino

Dr Jonathan Sherbino, portrait.
Photo: Erik Cronberg

Join us on The PAPERS Podcast as we delve into the digital habits of today’s health professionals. Discover how residents choose their learning resources and the psychological factors driving these choices, providing insights that can help both learners and educators optimize their educational strategies.

Episode article

Trivedi SP, Rodman A, Eliasz KL, Soffler MI, Sullivan AM. Finding the right combination for self‐directed learning: A focus group study of residents’ choice and use of digital resources to support their learning. The Clinical Teacher. 2024 Jan 17:e13722.

Episode notes


Back in my day… yeesh… am I really becoming the old man yelling at kids to keep off his lawn…. back in my day “I read it somewhere” was an acceptable reference to authority. (It is a presumption that textbooks and peer-reviewed journals are accurate/sufficient sources of evidence, but it is not the topic of our discussion today.) Kids today… by which I mean highly intelligent, motivated, thoughtful, and critical health professionals are more likely to say, “I heard it on a podcast,” as an equivalent gesture to authority. Appreciating the irony of discussing this topic on The PAPERs Podcast, our topic today is how learners choose a digital resource to support their learning.


From the authors: “The aim of this study was to discover what factors drive residents’ choice and use of digital resources outside of patient care hours. We also sought to assess whether and to what extent the psychological needs defined by SDT help explain the mechanisms that influence learners’ choice for particular types of resources…”


The authors used a framework approach to analyze virtual focus groups. Recognizing the iterative nature of the process, framework analysis begins inductively via immersion in the raw data to identify initial codes and patterns. In addition, the authors used self-determination theory to deductively inform the framework used for coding. Self-determination theory posits that the need for autonomy (being in control), competence (feeling effective and accomplished), and relatedness (social belonging) drive voluntary behaviour.

The analytic team was intentionally diversified with CEs with/without digital resource experience and PhD methodologies without digital resource experience.

Each team member (5) independently read and assigned preliminary codes.

A member check was conducted.

The study was reviewed by two Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) and exempted from full review


Eight 1-hour focus groups of 23 internal medicine residents at two large residency training programs were conducted.

Digital resources identified included:
BlogsQuestion banks
Digital textbooksTwitter
Google image searchVideos
Google searchWebsites
Journal resourcesYouTube videos
Highlighted items are mentioned most frequently.

This LOVELY figure from the article shows the cycle of use of digital resources as influenced by learner choice.

Finding the right combination: unlocking how residents chose digital educational resources to learn from outside of work. (1) ‘Should know’ triggers drove residents to seek digital learning resources; (2) combined considerations of lifestyle, cognitive bandwidth and needed activation energy ‘unlocked’ choice of specific resources; (3) familiarity with resources and increased socialisation reinforce their ongoing use; and (4) allow for increased engagement within the clinical environment, particularly with further peer discourse.
Figure from (Trivedi et al., n.d.) shows how residents chose digital educational resources to learn from outside of work.


From the authors:

“The selection of digital resources for self-directed learning is driven by multiple factors, suggesting an interdependent relationship between the learning environment and a residents’ cognitive capacity. Understanding these interconnections can help residents and clinical educators explicitly choose resources that fit their lifestyle and learning needs.”

Trivedi et al


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Live session at ASME on Wednesday 10th July, 16.30-18.00.

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