Intrinsic vs Extrinsic Motivation as Drivers for Early Engagement in R

Yassar Alamri,1,2 Erik Monasterio,3 Lutz Beckert,2 Tim J Wilkinson2,4

1Department of General Medicine, Canterbury District Health Board, Christchurch, New Zealand; 2Department of Medicine, University of Otago, Christchurch, New Zealand; 3Department of Psychological Medicine, Canterbury District Health Board, Christchurch, New Zealand; 4Medical Education Unit, University of Otago, Christchurch, New Zealand

Correspondence: Yassar Alamri
Canterbury District Health Board, 2 Riccarton Avenue, Christchurch, 8011, New Zealand
Tel +6421750015
Fax +6433786080
Email [email protected]

Background: A student’s motivation is a key factor in their success in undertaking an education endeavour. However, how this relates to involvement in research by medical students is unclear.
Methods: An electronic questionnaire was sent to all medical students at our institution. To ascertain students’ motivation to undertake research, they were asked an open-ended question to describe the single major factor that would encourage them to get involved in research as a medical student. A framework of self-determination theory was used to deductively code the responses as intrinsic motivation (“IM”; e.g., interest/passion) or extrinsic motivation (“EM”; e.g. improving CV). The two groups were then contrasted in relation to their research engagement.
Results: A total of 348 students were included in the survey, of whom 204 were coded as IM responses, and 144 were coded as EM responses. Students who engaged in extra-curricular research activities were more likely to report an underlying EM (48% vs 36%, p = 0.03). They were also older (23.7 ± 3.5 vs 21.9 ± 3.7, p = 0.005), and more likely to have completed a prior research degree (15% vs 3%, p = 0.01).
Conclusion: In this study, EM was a bigger influencer on research involvement by medical students than IM. Future studies should explore promoters of IM, and include longitudinal data in order to assess whether EM students continue to be involved in research long-term.

Keywords: motivation, medical education and training, statistical and research methods

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