• Users Online: 175
  • Print this page
  • Email this page

 Table of Contents  
Year : 2017  |  Volume : 1  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 17-21

A study on postgraduate medical students academic motivation and attitudes to research

Department of Psychiatry, Seth GSMC and KEM Hospital, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Date of Web Publication19-Jun-2017

Correspondence Address:
Neena S Sawant
Department of Psychiatry, Seth GSMC and KEM Hospital, Parel, Mumbai - 400 012, Maharashtra
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/aip.aip_7_17

Rights and Permissions

Background: Medical students do postgraduation in a specific branch for a particular motive and goal in life. Due to workload, they have less desire to do research or even pursue academics. This study was undertaken to study the differences among the clinical and nonclinical postgraduate students in the intrinsic and extrinsic motivation to learning and the attitudes to research. Methods: This study was conducted in 373 postgraduate students in a tertiary care hospital after written informed consent and ethics approval. A semi-structured questionnaire, academic motivation scale, and attitudes toward research scale collected the information about aims of the study. Results: Two groups were formed depending on the disciplines being pursued by the students, namely, clinical (n = 245) and nonclinical (n = 128). The nonclinical group showed significant differences on extrinsic motivation (t = 2.886, P = 0.0004), total motivation (t = 2.92, P = 0.0024), and attitudes to research students (t = 11.14, P = 0.0001) as compared to the clinical disciplines. However, on the intrinsic motivation subscale, no significant differences were seen. Discussion: The nonclinical postgraduate students were influenced by extrinsic factors to pursue learning and gain mastery as well as to do research. Students pursuing clinical disciplines had lower scores for academic motivation as well as attitudes to research. Time constraints, lack of infrastructure, and clinical workload add to the woes of clinical students. Conclusion: The results of this study will help us in determining the ways of improving motivation of postgraduate medical students toward academics and research.

Keywords: Academic motivation, extrinsic motivation, intrinsic motivation, medical postgraduates, research

How to cite this article:
Sawant NS, Parkar SR, Sharma A. A study on postgraduate medical students academic motivation and attitudes to research. Ann Indian Psychiatry 2017;1:17-21

How to cite this URL:
Sawant NS, Parkar SR, Sharma A. A study on postgraduate medical students academic motivation and attitudes to research. Ann Indian Psychiatry [serial online] 2017 [cited 2022 Dec 6];1:17-21. Available from: https://www.anip.co.in/text.asp?2017/1/1/17/208344

  Introduction Top

In our daily life, it is necessary to have motivation to fulfill tasks and achieve satisfaction. Motivation toward a goal helps us to make efforts toward and achieve it. Very often the medical students do postgraduation in a specific branch for a particular motive and goal in life. The motivation for pursuing a specific desired branch can be work profile, money, work satisfaction, etc., In India, postgraduate medical students have an excessive workload as the fixed duty hours suggested by the Medical Council of India (MCI) are not followed. Hence, the motivation to do research or pursue academics is seriously affected. Most of the postgraduate students complete their dissertation merely as an obligation and are hesitant to take up other research projects.

Motivation is usually defined by psychologists as the process involved in arousing, directing, and sustaining behavior.[1],[2] As per the self-determination theory, motivation is of three types intrinsic, extrinsic, and amotivation.[2],[3] Intrinsic motivation involves behaviors and actions which are carried out for the achievement of personal gains and may or may not involve material gains.[4] On the other hand, extrinsic motivation means drives to achieve goals for material gains, like a student who works hard for good grades, getting a rank or an award is extrinsically motivated.[5],[6]

Intrinsic motivation has “autonomy,” “competence” and “relatedness” as its pillars in which the need for relatedness can be seen as having the desire to being related to the significant others which can be parents, teachers, peers, etc.[7],[8] The above three basic needs when fulfilled make a person intrinsically motivated for any activity.[9],[10],[11] Extrinsic motivation is based on the drive coming from external sources and can be divided into four subtypes external regulation, introjected regulation, identified regulation, and integrated regulation.[1] External rewards, influences, or drives direct external regulation.[12],[13] Integrated motivation is different from internal motivation in which that it is externally regulated, but the individual also enjoys the activity in self.[14],[15] Similarly, amotivation is defined as the absence of drive and results in total lack of interest or need to carry out any activity.[16],[17]

In education, motivation plays a crucial role in the performance of students, which influences their academic performance. The desire to learn would also influence the learners to discover and to do research which is, especially true for medical education. It is an integral part of the learning experience as amotivation would result in poor clinicians with poor skills.

Research is the process of collecting and analyzing information to increase, one's understanding of the phenomenon under study.[18] The aim of the research is to contribute toward the understanding of the phenomenon and then to communicate that understanding to others. The attitude toward research basically means a detailed study of thinking, feeling, and the person's behavior toward research.[19]

In India, there are very few studies on understanding the perspectives of medical postgraduate students on learning and research. Hence, this study was undertaken to study the intrinsic and extrinsic motivation toward learning and attitudes to research in the clinical and nonclinical disciplines of medicine.

  Methods Top

The study was initiated after the Ethics Committee approval, in a tertiary care hospital, over 3 months. All residents studying in their 1st, 2nd, and 3rd year of residency program in a metro city tertiary care public hospital and medical college were included in the study after written informed consent.

This survey was conducted with one of the investigators going door to door in the residents' hostel buildings of the hospital where, they were informed about the nature of the study and given the informed consent document. Those who consented for the study were included in the survey. A case record form was given and collected by the investigator after 30–45 min on the same day.

There are about 775 residents studying in this tertiary care public hospital and medical college. A total of 468 residents were contacted; of whom, 442 consented for the study. A total of 373 completely filled pro formas were received and were analyzed, whereas 69 pro formas were incomplete and so were discarded. The participants were then divided into two groups, namely, Clinical and Nonclinical depending on the discipline they were pursuing their postgraduate studies. The clinical group (n = 275) included disciplines such as medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, anesthesia, psychiatry, dermatology, ENT, ophthalmology, radiology, preventive and social medicine and surgery. The nonclinical group (n = 128) included disciplines such as anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, pathology, pharmacology, forensic medicine, and microbiology.


Semi structured pro forma

A semi-structured pro forma was designed to collect information on the demographic variables (age, sex, and marital status) and questions about the aims of the study with self-administered scales.

Attitudes toward research scale

The attitudes toward research scale (ATR) was devised by Papanastasiou in 2005 to investigate the attitudes and anxiety level of the students toward research and its influence on their academic achievement. The ATR scale includes 32 items measured on a seven-point Likert scale. A value of one indicates a response of “strongly disagree” while a value of seven corresponds to “strongly agree,” It gives a total score of the scale. It has a reliability of 91% and validity of 94%.[20]

Academic intrinsic motivation scale

The academic intrinsic motivation tool was developed by Shia of Wheeling Jesuit University. It is a sixty-item scale which is based on a seven-point likert scale. Each participant gave themselves a rating for each question on a seven-point Likert scale (1 = does not describe me; 7 = absolutely describes me). It gives a total score and a domain score. There are two domains on intrinsic motivation and four domains on extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation factors include mastery goals and the need for achievement. Extrinsic motivation factors include authority expectations (family and professor), peer acceptance, power motivations, and fear of failure. One who rates themselves highly on intrinsic statements and low on extrinsic statements will be considered a student with high intrinsic motivation. One who rates themselves highly on extrinsic factors and low on intrinsic factors will be considered a student with low intrinsic motivation. This scale has a reliability score of 77% and a high validity of 92%.[21]

  Results Top

The demographic variables revealed the mean age to be around 26 ± 2.2 years in the clinical group and 26 ± 1.48 years in the nonclinical group. There was a male preponderance in both the groups with male to female ratio was 1.2:1. Although most were unmarried, higher percentage of married (34%) was seen among nonclinical postgraduate students as compared to only 24% being married in the clinical subgroup [Table 1].
Table 1: Demographic variables

Click here to view

When all the postgraduate students were assessed for their motivation toward academics on the academic intrinsic motivation scale, then a highly statistical difference was seen in the nonclinical disciplines having higher extrinsic motivation as compared to the postgraduate students of clinical branches (t = 2.886, P = 0.004). This was also reflected in the total score on motivation scale which was statistically significant (t = 2.92, P = 0.0024). However, on the intrinsic motivation subscale, no significant differences were seen [Table 2].
Table 2: Academic motivation of postgraduate medical students in clinical and nonclinical disciplines

Click here to view

When the postgraduate students were assessed for their attitudes to research, then a statistically significant difference (t = 11.14, P = 0.0001) was observed with students in the nonclinical disciplines having higher ATR as compared to the students pursuing clinical courses [Table 3].
Table 3: Attitudes toward research of postgraduate medical students in clinical and nonclinical disciplines

Click here to view

  Discussion Top

Demographic variables

There were no significant differences seen in the demographic variables; hence, both the groups were comparable. Various other Indian studies have reported a higher mean in the age group of the resident doctors as compared to our study with males outnumbering the females.[22] A previous study done in a similar public medical college and hospital of Mumbai reported marriage rate to be around 22% among medical postgraduates.[23] These findings were slightly different from ours, as a higher marriage rate of 36% was now seen in nonclinical students with 24% marriage rate in the students pursuing clinical disciplines. The more likely reason for this could be the change in the admission process for medical studies in the past decade where now students have to give entrance examinations at state and national levels for postgraduation and hence, there could be a delay in the admission. Furthermore, majority finish their under graduation by 24–25 years which in India is considered the marriageable age. Hence, this cultural pressure could result in the higher marriage rates.

Academic motivation

The academic motivation scale looked at both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Surprisingly, there were no statistical differences seen on the intrinsic motivation subscales in both the groups which looked at the domains of mastery over goals and the need for achievement. Both the groups had similar scores on the questions assessing the mastery over goals like “I feel that challenging assignments can be great learning experiences; No matter how much I like or dislike a class, I still try to learn from it; I see myself as well-informed in many academic areas; I enjoy learning about various subjects, etc.” In need for achievement subscale too there were no differences seen in the scores on “I want to learn everything I need to learn; I feel good about myself when I finish a difficult project; I set high goals for myself etc.”

The extrinsic motivation subscales looked at the factors responsible for authority expectations like “Being in college gives me the opportunity to prove to my family that I can achieve something; It does not bother me when others perform better than I on a test; When I do poorly on an exam, I feel that I let my professor down,” peer acceptance as “I like to be one of the most recognized students in the classroom; I feel that the smarter I am, the more accepted I will be by other students,” power motivations like “I find my ability to be higher than most of my peers; I feel good about myself when others do not understand material that is clear to me” and fear of failure such as “When faced with a difficult test, I expect to fail before I expect to do well; even when I have studied for hours, I don't feel that I have studied enough.”

It was seen that students pursuing nonclinical disciplines had higher scores as compared to clinical disciplines. The most likely reason for this could be that the students in the nonclinical disciplines had more learning goals to achieve knowledge and show their performance to peers to be accepted as well as to show their mastery over the subject. They were constantly seeking approval from authority, like their teachers. This was in contrast to the students from clinical disciplines who would get immediate gratification for their learning outcomes from the patients. The clinical disciplines would also do their clinical work independently without being assessed by their teachers. The nonclinical students are often supervised by their senior medical faculty and hence, mistakes would be unpardonable. This could be a reason for the extrinsic motivation being a determining factor in nonclinical group.

However our findings are different from previous studies where much of the research is done in medical undergraduate students than postgraduate students. Mirza et al.[24] found that medical students undergoing clinical rotation had high extrinsic motivation as compared to the ones who had no clinical exposure, hence emphasizing the need for clinical exposure to students. Mandeville et al. in their study of Malavian medical students found that the student's average score was higher for the extrinsic motivation than intrinsic.[25]

Attitudes to research

The postgraduate students of the nonclinical disciplines definitely had a positive attitude towards research. They expressed more desire to do research as compared to the students of the clinical discipline. The students pursuing clinical disciplines experienced a heavy workload in this urban tertiary care hospital in an emergency, in-patient and out-patient services. The fixed duty hours by the MCI of 48 h are generally not followed, and the students would even do 48 h at a stretch. This leaves very little time to pursue research or undertake projects as there is a lack of funds for the clinical disciplines. The nonclinical disciplines are, however, usually funded and it makes easier for the postgraduate students to undertake research with their teachers. Time constraints, lack of infrastructure, and clinical work add on to the woes of clinical students who then lose interest to learn something new.[26] Several studies in undergraduate medical students have documented that though medical students feel research activities beneficial to their education,[18] but very few actually participated in any research during medical school.[27]

Chaturvedi and Aggarwal [28] in their study from India found that 91% of interns reported no research experience in medical school. Aslam et al.[29] also commented in their study that students in India are rarely exposed to research at the stage of their academic development when such exposure could encourage further research and improve their understanding.

  Conclusion Top

This study highlights that extrinsic motivation is an important factor for promoting learning and hence, the teaching program of clinical and nonclinical disciplines should include assessment with feedback to the postgraduate residents so that it would ensure participation from students and improve the intrinsic motivation to learn.

Supporting student research by having grants given by Medical Education Unit or Research Society of every institute would also help in promoting research. It is, therefore, essential that every medical college looks into these issues and establishes a cell for developing the supportive work environment, emphasizing academic motivation and promoting research in residents which is the need in today's times.


We would like to acknowledge Dr. Avinash Supe Dean and Director (ME and MH), Seth GSMC and KEM Hospital, Mumbai for granting us permission to conduct the study.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Affum-Ossei E, Barnie J, Furkuoh JS. Achievement motivation, academic self concept and academic achievement amongst high school students. Eur J Res Reflect Educ Sci 2014;2:24-37.  Back to cited text no. 1
Urdan TS. Classroom effects on student motivation; goal structures, social relationships and competence beliefs. J Sch Psychol 2006;44:331-49.  Back to cited text no. 2
Deci EL, Betley G, Kahle J, Abrams L, Porac J. When trying to win: Competition and intrinsic motivation. Pers Soc Psychol Bull 1981;7:79-83.  Back to cited text no. 3
Cortright RN. Higher levels of intrinsic motivation are related to higher levels of class performance for males but not female students. Adv Physiol Educ 2013;37:227-32.  Back to cited text no. 4
Kosnin AM. Self regulated learning and achievement in Malaysian undergraduates. Int Educ J 2007;8:221-8.  Back to cited text no. 5
Kusurkar RA, Croiset G, Galindo-Garré F, Ten Cate O. Motivational profiles of medical students: Association with study effort, academic performance and exhaustion. BMC Med Educ 2013;13:87.  Back to cited text no. 6
Deci E, Vallerand R, Pelletier L, Ryan R. Motivation and education, the self determinant perspective. Educ Psychol 1991;26:325-46.  Back to cited text no. 7
Arrepattamanil S. Relationship between academic motivation and achievement in mathematics in amongst Indian adolescents in Canada and India. J Gen Psychol 2014;3:247-52.  Back to cited text no. 8
Owolabi JO, Tijnani AA, Shaille PD. An assessment of the level of motivation towards the study of anatomy among students in South Western Nigerian universities. J Health Sci 2013;1:79-89.  Back to cited text no. 9
Campos-Sánchez A, López-Núñez JA, Carriel V, Martín-Piedra MÁ, Sola T, Alaminos M. Motivational component profiles in university students learning histology: A comparative study between genders and different health science curricula. BMC Med Educ 2014;14:46.  Back to cited text no. 10
Millan LR, Azevedo RS, Rossi E, De Marco OL, Millan MP, de Arruda PC. What is behind a student's choice for becoming a doctor? Clinics (Sao Paulo) 2005;60:143-50.  Back to cited text no. 11
Kavousipour S, Noorafshan A, Pourahmad S, Dehghani-Nazhvani A. Achievement motivation level in students of Shiraz University of Medical Sciences and its influential factors. J Adv Med Educ Prof 2015;3:26-32.  Back to cited text no. 12
Williams BW, Kessler HA, Williams MV. Relationship among practice change, motivation, and self-efficacy. J Contin Educ Health Prof 2014;34 Suppl 1:S5-10.  Back to cited text no. 13
Schatt MD. High school instrumental music students' attitudes and beliefs regarding practice: An application of attribution theory. Appl Res Music Educ 2013;29:29-40.  Back to cited text no. 14
Peter AL, Azu AO. A survey of attitudes of lectures and students of anatomy towards making anatomy career friendly in Nigeria. Ibom Med J 2012;5:39-44.  Back to cited text no. 15
Tammani FR, Gundomi Z. Correlation between achievement motivation and academic achievement in university students. Educ Strateg Med Sci 2011;4:15-9.  Back to cited text no. 16
Shankar N, Singh S, Gautam S, Dhaliwal U. Motivation and preparedness of first semester medical students for a career in medicine. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol 2013;57:432-8.  Back to cited text no. 17
Siemens DR, Punnen S, Wong J, Kanji N. A survey on the attitudes towards research in medical school. BMC Med Educ 2010;10:4.  Back to cited text no. 18
Meraj L, Gul N; Zubaidazain, Akhter I, Iram F, Khan AS. Perceptions and attitudes towards research amongst medical students at Shifa College of Medicine. J Pak Med Assoc 2016;66:165-89.  Back to cited text no. 19
Papanastasiou EC. Factor structure of the 'Attitudes towards research' scale. Stat Educ Res J 2005;4:16-26.  Back to cited text no. 20
Shia RM. Assessing Academic Intrinsic Motivation: A Look at Student Goals and Personal Strategy; 1998. Available from: http://www.cet.edu/research/student.html. [Last accessed on 2016 Jul 29].  Back to cited text no. 21
Shashikantha SK, Sheethal MP. Prevalence of depression among post graduate residents in a tertiary health care institute, Haryana. Int J Med Sci Public Health 2016;5:2139-42.  Back to cited text no. 22
Sawant N, Deshmukh S. A clinical study of emotional disturbances & stressors in resident medical doctor. Indian J Pathol Microbiol 2005;26:42-51.  Back to cited text no. 23
Mirza SK, Malik AN, Naz S. Students' academic motivational level in clinical and non-clinical setting. Rawal Med J 2016;41:112-5.  Back to cited text no. 24
Mandeville KL, Bartelle T, Mipando M. Future career plans of Malavian medical students: A cross sectional study. Hum Res Health 2012;14:46.  Back to cited text no. 25
Sheikh AS, Sheikh SA, Kaleem A, Waqas A. Factors contributing to lack of interest in research among medical students. Adv Med Educ Pract 2013;4:237-43.  Back to cited text no. 26
Alghamdi KM, Moussa NA, Alessa DS, Alothimeen N, Al-Saud AS. Perceptions, attitudes and practices toward research among senior medical students. Saudi Pharm J 2014;22:113-7.  Back to cited text no. 27
Chaturvedi S, Aggarwal OP. Training interns in population-based research: Learners' feedback from 13 consecutive batches from a medical school in India. Med Educ 2001;35:585-9.  Back to cited text no. 28
Aslam F, Shakir M, Qayyum MA. Why medical students are crucial to the future of research in South Asia. PLoS Med 2005;2:e322.  Back to cited text no. 29


  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3]


Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
 Related articles
Access Statistics
Email Alert *
Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)

  In this article
Article Tables

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded289    
    Comments [Add]    

Recommend this journal