Students' attitudes towards learning communication skills: correlating attitudes, demographic and metacognitive variables

Antje Lumma-Sellenthin

Department of Medical and Health Sciences, Linköping University, 581 83 Linköping, Sweden

Submitted: 24/05/2012; Accepted: 29/09/2012; Published: 24/10/2012

Int J Med Educ. 2012; 3:201-208; doi: 10.5116/ijme.5066.cef9

© 2012 Antje Lumma-Sellenthin. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use of work provided the original work is properly cited. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

Objectives: This study aimed at exploring the relationship of students' attitudes towards learning communication skills to demographic variables, metacognitive skills, and to the appreciation of patient-oriented care.

Methods: The cross-sectional survey study involved first- and third-term students from two traditional and two problem-based curricula (N= 351). Demographic variables, attitudes towards communication skills learning, patient orientation, and awareness of learning strategies were assessed. Differences in attitude measures were assessed with t-tests and univariate comparisons. With multiple linear regressions predictor variables of students' attitudes towards communication skills learning and patient-oriented care were identified.

Results: A positive attitude towards learning communica-tion skills was predicted by a caring patient orientation, self-regulation of learning strategies, and female gender (R[sup]2[/sup]= 0.23; F [sub](9,310)[/sub] = 9.72; p < 0.001). Students' caring patient orientation was predicted by their attitudes towards learning communication skills, female gender, and higher age (R[sup]2[/sup]= 0.23; F [sub](9,307)[/sub] = 13.48; p < 0.001). Students from a traditional curriculum were least interested in learning communication skills (F[sub] (3, 346) [/sub] = 26.75; p <0.001).

Conclusions: Students' attitudes towards learning communication skills and their caring patient orientation are interrelated. However, communication skills are considered as more positive by students with good self-regulatory skills. Early training of self-regulation and the training of communication skills in mixed-gender groups are recommended.