Perceptions of Saudi medical students regarding self-directed learning: A qualitative study


  • Muhammad Imran Department of Surgery, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
  • Sami Anwarfathi Kalantan Department of Surgery, National Guard Hospital, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
  • Mohammed Salim Alkorbi Department of Surgery, National Guard Hospital, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
  • Muhammad Shahid Shamim Department of Surgery, Dow University of Health Sciences, Karachi, Pakistan



Objective: To explore students’ perceptions regarding SDL as a learning method, their experience of using SDL and how it may play a role in their life-long learning.

Methods: The exploratory study was conducted at Faculty of Medicine in Rabigh (FMR), King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, from January to February 2018, after the approval of institutional Research Ethics Committee. Four focus group discussions (FGD) with undergraduate medical students explored students’ perception about SDL. FGDs were audiotaped, transcribed, and analyzed thematically. Validation was done by member checking and external audit.

Results: Five major themes were generated: understanding of SDL; views about SDL as a strategy; process of the strategy; effects of SDL; SDL and life-long learning. Subthemes which led to developing major themes, included self-study, personal efforts, and objectives & goals (theme1); good strategy, boredom with lectures, and need guidance (theme2); time management, outline of planning, and internet browsing (theme3); deep learning and curiosity (theme4); life-long learning and future progress (theme5).

Conclusion: Our students have mixed perceptions regarding SDL. Most students perceive that SDL can affect their learning and future progress positively. However, they need support to effectively use this strategy. The faculty role is crucial in this regard.

Keywords: Self-directed learning, qualitative study, grounded theory, Continuous...

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Research Article