Improving learning efficiency of factual knowledge in medical education

D. Dante Yeh, Yoon Soo Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Objective The purpose of this review is to synthesize recent literature relating to factual knowledge acquisition and retention and to explore its applications to medical education. Results Distributing, or spacing, practice is superior to massed practice (i.e. cramming). Testing, compared to re-study, produces better learning and knowledge retention, especially if tested as retrieval format (short answer) rather than recognition format (multiple choice). Feedback is important to solidify the testing effect. Conclusions Learning basic factual knowledge is often overlooked and under-appreciated in medical education. Implications for applying these concepts to smartphones are discussed; smartphones are owned by the majority of medical trainees and can be used to deploy evidence-based educational methods to greatly enhance learning of factual knowledge.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)882-889
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Surgical Education
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • distributive practice
  • feedback
  • medical education
  • smartphones
  • testing effect

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Education


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