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JAOA/AACOM Medical Education  |   April 2020
Academic Advising Using Theoretical Approaches for Medical Students Who Are Struggling in Preclinical Years
Author Notes
  • From the Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Osteopathic Medicine at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. 
  • Financial disclosures: None reported. 
  • Support: None reported. 
  •  *Address correspondence to Sweta Tewary, PhD, MSW, MMIS, Department of Medical Education, Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Osteopathic Medicine, Nova Southeastern University, 3234 S University Dr, Fort Lauderdale, FL, 33325-2000. Email: st813@nova.edu
     
Article Information
Medical Education
JAOA/AACOM Medical Education   |   April 2020
Academic Advising Using Theoretical Approaches for Medical Students Who Are Struggling in Preclinical Years
The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, April 2020, Vol. 120, 228-235. doi:https://doi.org/10.7556/jaoa.2020.039
The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, April 2020, Vol. 120, 228-235. doi:https://doi.org/10.7556/jaoa.2020.039
Abstract

Theoretical approaches provide a foundation for helping students in academic settings. The application of learning theories in medical education is also well documented. However, very few studies have applied a theoretical framework to academic advising for struggling students in the preclinical years of their medical education. This article summarizes key learning theories and their application to commonly found problems among first- and second-year medical students. The authors review current advising processes based on widely used theories in medical education and cite examples from their practices about how these theories can be used in effective academic advising. They also discuss the importance of using a holistic approach while helping students overcome academic barriers during their time in medical school.

The preclinical years of any medical school can be overwhelming and demanding because of fast-paced learning and the competitive nature of fellow students. This environment can trigger stress and anxiety in students struggling to meet the multiple physical demands of long study hours.1 In addition, the pressure of competing academic priorities, multiple academic failures, cognitive load from memorization, and huge debts can trigger depression in students, particularly for those who are struggling with learning.2 
Medical students who are struggling are at a higher risk of college attrition and are typically low academic achievers.3 Many low-performing students experience a range of problems, including difficulty learning course materials, ineffective study strategies, low self-efficacy, mental health issues, lack of social support, and family disruption.4-6 Awareness of such key indicators can facilitate early identification of students who are at risk of poor academic performance, which would also encourage students to seek help in the first year of medical school when they start testing poorly or have their first low academic performance.4 
Some students may also have difficulty changing study techniques acquired in undergraduate years that are no longer adequate for academic proficiency.4 Ongoing environmental distractions or having too many responsibilities in medical school can further exacerbate these problems. Hu et al7 investigated the relationship between pattern change of learning preferences and academic performance. The study suggested that students who are struggling performed better in academic courses during their first year when they transitioned their learning style—which could be visual, auditory, reading, writing, or kinesthetic—from unimodal to multimodal.7 
Medical students who are struggling are at risk of course failures that can lead to dismissals or withdrawals from the college. Additionally, the students who struggle in their first 2 years are less likely to pass their board examinations on first attempt, therefore reducing their chance for a successful match with their first-choice specialty.8 The general approach to help students who are failing involves remediation examinations, accompanied by retaking of partial or entire courses with periodic academic advising.9 Schools have independent policies to work with students who fail remediation. 
Given the high Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education standards, it is important that students who are struggling receive support, encouragement, and appropriate guidance in their first 2 years of medical school. To date, we found no research on the performance of this subgroup in clinical practice. This article describes an overview of academic advising in medical education, theoretical approaches for understanding learners, and the application of these theories in academic advising to help students achieve their educational goals during their preclinical years. 
Methods
To support our overview, we reviewed the existing literature, searching for peer-reviewed articles, dissertation theses, and other electronic sources in multiple databases, including PubMed, PsychNet, and Research Gate. Our primary search keywords were medical education, theories, struggling students, academic advising, millennials, YouTube generation, osteopathic medicine, and student learning. After this initial, generic search, we refined our focus to learning theories, as they were extensively cited in the literature; our keywords then included behaviorism, self-efficacy, cognitivism, constructivism, acculturation, and ecological theories. 
Academic Advising in Medical Schools: A Mixed Approach
Academic advising is a valuable resource for first- and second-year medical students as they navigate their preclinical years. Academic advisors can play an important role for medical students who are struggling, as students may need advising in multiple domains, such as personal issues, research, future career, residency, alumni, or academic achievement.10 However, advisors can struggle to find the right approach when working with these students. Some advisors follow a prescriptive style, while others follow a developmental style of advising.1 Prescriptive advising is associated with the advisor's expertise, while developmental advising is associated with the student and advisor sharing authority and developing common goals as well as intended outcomes.11 
Academic advising can either be student- or faculty-driven, depending on each student's need. Student-driven advising through mentoring helps facilitate insight into the student's assumptions, learning strategies, and intended outcomes. Medical students who are struggling typically communicate with faculty due to repetitive examination/course failures or when suggested to do so to comply with school policy. In contrast, in faculty-driven advising, the student consults with the faculty on specific personal, social, or academic issues.12 While different natures and styles of advising may help different students, an overall understanding of existing theoretical approaches can guide the advising process. 
Academic advising should also meet the changing needs of students, especially millennial students, as most of their learning occurs through online platforms. For example, in a study conducted by Barry et al13 with 73 students, 50 second-year medical students (in addition to 23 radiation therapy students) were administered a survey to indicate their learning preferences for anatomy courses. Study results showed that approximately 70% of students reported reliance on web-based resources, which suggests that traditional methods of teaching should be modified. These study findings indicate how the rapid growth of internet technologies, including social networking websites, virtual reality programs, and YouTube, have provided additional learning environments for millennial students. A study conducted by Farnan et al14 highlighted the advantages and disadvantages of online platforms in medical education. Online learning platforms, although very effective because of convenience, cost-effectiveness, and student engagement, are limited by possible copyright infringements and lack of a standardized professional code of behavior.14 
Theoretical approaches can provide a distinct framework by which to understand a student's perspective, and they can help in formulating an intended plan of action in academic advising.15 For years, educators have advocated for the use of theoretical approaches in student advising, as they can provide structure and critical insight in advising.16 Theories can help guide different advising styles that can be beneficial to students who present with different personal, academic, cultural, or interpersonal issues. In the next few sections, we discuss the theoretical approaches and their application in medical education.17 
Theoretical Approaches in Medical Education
In general, theories offer deeper understanding of a phenomenon, both from a conceptual perspective and practice perspective. They often help guide the development of a hypothesis and can be validated or modified through scientific inquiry. A review of current literature suggests that academicians have periodically used psychosocial theories to advise students.18 The Table presents the application of theoretical approaches during the preclinical years of medical education. Our review of theoretical these approaches found heavy emphasis on learning theories, as they can be easily understood from a learner's perspective.18-20 Learning theories are a set of specific, guided principles that help explain how students learn, process, or understand knowledge acquired in various settings. Large-scale, “macro” theories such as acculturation and ecological system theory are also discussed, since learning theories are criticized for their lack of emphasis on the sociocultural context. 
Table.
Hypothetical Application of Theoretical Approaches During Academic Advising.
Challenge Applicable Learning Theory Suggested Approach
Difficulty in integrating multiple concepts from coursework ▪ Cognitivism
▪ Self-Efficacy
Use of concept maps and reflective thinking. Examples of concepts maps could be types of neurons and image examples of each, or defining a few epithelial cell disorders such as Kartagener syndrome, cystic fibrosis, and Barret esophagus with gastroesophageal reflux.
Difficulty with memorization Behaviorism Advisors can discuss several strategies, including memorization techniques such as mnemonics, testing, flashcards, and spaced repetition.
Multiple failures in coursework and board examinations ▪ Cognitivism
▪ Self-Efficacy
Many students engage in ineffective methods of studying, for instance spending more time than their peers in extensive notetaking and reading the same resource multiple times. Ineffective studying strategies can result in repetitive failures, which strengthen the student's belief of being a low achiever, inducing low self-esteem and self-worth. Academic advisors can provide support by motivating students to develop confidence in completing their tasks.
Unable to focus on suitable resources for concept learning ▪ Cognitivism
▪ Social Learning
Sometimes students are overwhelmed and confused over the most appropriate resource to pass the course/board examination. In situations like these, students should be advised to focus on fewer resources. Another approach could be to pair a low-achieving learner with a high-achieving learner. High-achieving learners can share the materials or resources that have been successful for their academic learning. Many schools provide resources such as study groups and informal sessions that facilitate a learning environment through role modeling, which can benefit students who are struggling.
Difficulty with test performance Social Learning Modeling a behaviorist approach can help guide students to meet with peers who have taken similar examinations and understand test taking strategies.
Lack of family support Acculturation Academic advisors should be sensitive to each student's value and belief system and, at the same time, probe deeper to extract the underlying issue behind poor academic performance. Students can get distracted during the study track and blame it on family and culture. It is necessary to distinguish an actual problem from an excuse to avoid stressful scenarios.
Competing priorities between academics and personal life Acculturation Students can encounter chaos and conflict at home. Culture may or may not always have a role in how the family environment affects the student's academic achievement. However, it is important to address the situation and if possible, distract them from the chaos so they can concentrate on their immediate priorities. Strategies for effective distraction should be discussed with the student.
Failure to seek assistance when needed Acculturation Students from multicultural backgrounds avoid asking questions out of a culturally biased respect for the educator or not wanting to create additional burden for people in authority. Academic advisors provide the necessary support and empower students by connecting them with appropriate resources.
Low self-esteem Constructivism It is important to understand why the student failed. Was it poor performance, anxiety, not studying, family circumstances, difficulty in comprehending material, or low self-esteem?
Ineffective time management skills Constructivism Students can be mentored to outline small tasks/activities to be completed in a specific timeframe. For example, if a student is having trouble studying multiple assignments or test questions, a simple study guide that breaks the tasks into a daily, weekly, or monthly schedule based on the student's convenience can facilitate completion of work in a timely manner. This does not mean that advisors task themselves in creating a study plan, but rather they facilitate the process so that the student can be motivated to self-navigate the educational system. A learner who is struggling will be able to develop time-management skills appropriate for the study period.
Table.
Hypothetical Application of Theoretical Approaches During Academic Advising.
Challenge Applicable Learning Theory Suggested Approach
Difficulty in integrating multiple concepts from coursework ▪ Cognitivism
▪ Self-Efficacy
Use of concept maps and reflective thinking. Examples of concepts maps could be types of neurons and image examples of each, or defining a few epithelial cell disorders such as Kartagener syndrome, cystic fibrosis, and Barret esophagus with gastroesophageal reflux.
Difficulty with memorization Behaviorism Advisors can discuss several strategies, including memorization techniques such as mnemonics, testing, flashcards, and spaced repetition.
Multiple failures in coursework and board examinations ▪ Cognitivism
▪ Self-Efficacy
Many students engage in ineffective methods of studying, for instance spending more time than their peers in extensive notetaking and reading the same resource multiple times. Ineffective studying strategies can result in repetitive failures, which strengthen the student's belief of being a low achiever, inducing low self-esteem and self-worth. Academic advisors can provide support by motivating students to develop confidence in completing their tasks.
Unable to focus on suitable resources for concept learning ▪ Cognitivism
▪ Social Learning
Sometimes students are overwhelmed and confused over the most appropriate resource to pass the course/board examination. In situations like these, students should be advised to focus on fewer resources. Another approach could be to pair a low-achieving learner with a high-achieving learner. High-achieving learners can share the materials or resources that have been successful for their academic learning. Many schools provide resources such as study groups and informal sessions that facilitate a learning environment through role modeling, which can benefit students who are struggling.
Difficulty with test performance Social Learning Modeling a behaviorist approach can help guide students to meet with peers who have taken similar examinations and understand test taking strategies.
Lack of family support Acculturation Academic advisors should be sensitive to each student's value and belief system and, at the same time, probe deeper to extract the underlying issue behind poor academic performance. Students can get distracted during the study track and blame it on family and culture. It is necessary to distinguish an actual problem from an excuse to avoid stressful scenarios.
Competing priorities between academics and personal life Acculturation Students can encounter chaos and conflict at home. Culture may or may not always have a role in how the family environment affects the student's academic achievement. However, it is important to address the situation and if possible, distract them from the chaos so they can concentrate on their immediate priorities. Strategies for effective distraction should be discussed with the student.
Failure to seek assistance when needed Acculturation Students from multicultural backgrounds avoid asking questions out of a culturally biased respect for the educator or not wanting to create additional burden for people in authority. Academic advisors provide the necessary support and empower students by connecting them with appropriate resources.
Low self-esteem Constructivism It is important to understand why the student failed. Was it poor performance, anxiety, not studying, family circumstances, difficulty in comprehending material, or low self-esteem?
Ineffective time management skills Constructivism Students can be mentored to outline small tasks/activities to be completed in a specific timeframe. For example, if a student is having trouble studying multiple assignments or test questions, a simple study guide that breaks the tasks into a daily, weekly, or monthly schedule based on the student's convenience can facilitate completion of work in a timely manner. This does not mean that advisors task themselves in creating a study plan, but rather they facilitate the process so that the student can be motivated to self-navigate the educational system. A learner who is struggling will be able to develop time-management skills appropriate for the study period.
×
Learning Theories
Behaviorism
This theory relies heavily on behavior that can be directly observed, evaluating the relationship between a stimulus and response. It is a teacher-centered approach that facilitates a desired response in the learner.8 Behaviorism operates on rewards and punishment for appropriate and inappropriate behaviors, respectively. Learning can occur through gradual conditioning from an external stimulus. Behavior change can happen only in small increments until a desired change is observed.21,22 Application of behaviorist theory includes positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, punishment, or systematic desensitization. Rostami and Khadjooi,23 in their study on the implications of behaviorism in medical education, described how assessments could be designed for a higher completion rate. For example, students can be conditioned to complete a certain assignment on the premise that those who do so would have a higher chance of performing better on a specific test. Behaviorism is limited in its understanding of learning, as it does not account for cognition.23 For example, positive reinforcement may not be helpful for some students if they are unable to prioritize or modify their study habits. 
Cognitivism
Cognitivism relies on a learner's internal thoughts and processes to facilitate comprehension and understanding. Piaget emphasized that learners make sense of the interaction between their environment and personal experiences. Learners constantly restructure their schemata, or pattern of thoughts and behaviors, through assimilation and accommodation when new information is presented.22 Social cognitivism argues that social learning precedes development, and culture plays a key role in cognition development. 
The cognitive learning theory presents students with instructional training to improve learning. One application of this theory in medical education is memorization, especially in first-year medical science courses like pathology and anatomy, which demand a large amount of cognitive load.25 Cognitive learning can be limited when a student lacks understanding when learning in a certain environment. For example, some students can study or test better in a classroom or library but get distracted in an unstructured environment, thereby affecting learning. 
Social Learning
The social learning theory proposes that behavior is learned through the environment by observation.26 There is a continuous, reciprocal interaction among cognitive, behavioral, and environmental influences. The 4 main components of social learning are (1) attention, (2) retention, (3) motor reproduction, and (4) motivational process. One successful application of this theory in medical education is modeling. Some students, especially those who are struggling, may need more guidance and support than others. However, helping students identify successful study skills can help them perform better in the preclinical years of medical school.27 
The social learning theory was refined over time and became the social cognitive theory, a core component of which is self-efficacy. The self-efficacy theory proposed by Bandura28 aims at understanding the competence of an individual in completing a task. The self-efficacy construct explains how motivation and confidence are important in completing a goal or a specific task. Our review found multiple studies suggesting the benefits of building self-efficacy, namely that improved self-efficacy has an impact on academic achievement.5,29-31 Guntern et al32 found that self-discipline, social activity, and self-efficacy beliefs collectively predicted academic achievement during the preclinical years. 
Self-efficacy is also interdependent on self-regulated learning. 33 A previous qualitative study of 55 students demonstrated the benefits of improved self-regulated learning.34 This study explored self-regulated learning theory among first-year medical students who failed their year-end final assessment. The study suggested that students who did not perform well avoided seeking help and resisted changes to learning strategies, resulting in multiple failures. The study also suggested that maladaptive, self-regulated learning affects response to failure, including normalizing failure and a lack of self-reflection that could potentially prevent students from overcoming these failures.34 However, self-efficacy does not always guarantee a positive outcome.35 Individual experiences and distorted memories of previous performances can affect self-efficacy.36 For example, it can be difficult to increase self-efficacy if the student has had multiple failures, a death in the family, or a family member with a terminal illness. 
Constructivism
This theory proposes that students learn by constructing their own reality. Students may create meaning from their environmental assumptions or personal experiences. It is important to understand that these assumptions are valid. When new material is presented, learners should be taught and coached through all of the steps. Learning is based on a process that connects new knowledge with prior, existing knowledge.37 The constructivist learning theory is built on task-based learning. For example, first- and second-year medical students are taught basic science information, but later asked to apply this knowledge through simulation before they encounter real patients. Throughout this process, knowledge is being enhanced through problem-based and task-based learning.37 Constructivist theory is applied in medical education through case-based learning. Students can discuss cases assigned to them and share interpretations with each other to make learning more effective.21 For medical student who are struggling, advisors can suggest study groups—either face-to-face or online, where participants are exposed to different learning methods, task-based learning, and problem-solving methods. However, this can be challenging in the absence of direction or proper guidance, which is a limitation of the constructivist approach.38 
“Macro” Theories
Acculturation
Berry39 proposed a multidimensional approach with 4 distinct elements of the acculturation theory: (1) assimilation, where individuals totally adapt to the receiving culture and reject the parent culture; (2) separation, where individuals reject the receiving culture and retain the parent culture; (3) integration or bicultural socialization, where individuals retain both the parent as well as the receiving culture and; and (4) marginalization, where individuals reject both the receiving and parent culture. An example of acculturation in medical education is the struggle faced by students with international backgrounds, while trying to adjust to their academic load. 
McGarvey et al,40 in their study on international students in medical school in Ireland, examined students from Ireland, Europe, Africa, the Caribbean Islands, the Middle East, and Asia. These students showed varied responses to making social connections and friendships. Some ethnically diverse students found social adjustment more difficult than students who were citizens of the United States. The study reported that students from Malaysia and the Middle East were less well-adjusted compared with other international students. Another study suggested that international students are at highest risk in clinical skills training due to delayed acculturation.41 
Ecological System Theory
Although the acculturation theory incorporates culture as a major environmental influence, it narrows its understanding to immigrant populations. Therefore, we recommend using the ecological system theory. This theory offers a broader and better framework for understanding the needs of students who are struggling with different financial, cultural, educational, and/or social backgrounds. The theory is built on the idea that an individual has direct and indirect contact with his or her environment, comprising nested arrangements of different structures: immediate interaction with family, peers, church, camp, or workplace, as well as larger systems, such as social structures, culture, and law and order.42 The interactions between these systems can deter or promote a student's progress in the preclinical years of medical school. Students who are struggling often complain about family issues, social engagements, ineffective learning, and study-life balance. Academic advising can include evaluating all the systems with which a student who is struggling interacts and filtering out those that are most distracting. 
Importance of Learning Theories in Osteopathic Medicine
Medical schools enroll students from all different backgrounds and nationalities. These include nontraditional students who choose osteopathic medicine as a second or even third career. Many of these students may be single parents or have families with competing priorities. It is therefore important to understand the changing environment, advising structure, and learning methods that can be useful for medical students who are struggling to achieve success in the rapidly changing medical education system. 
Application of Theoretical Approaches During Academic Advising
Some of the common academic challenges encountered by students who are struggling in preclinical years have been identified and understood through multiple theoretical perspectives, all of which can be applied through role-modeling, mentoring, and collaborative or peer-group training. The Table illustrates examples of the challenges that medical students who are struggling may encounter. The choice of theory is based on the academic advisor's experience and practical approach. 
Limitations
As with all literature reviews, the analysis in this review has its limitations. First, our interpretation is based on a limited number of studies applying theory to practice in medical education. Hence, interpretations cannot be generalized. Second, theories are dynamic and evolving, and there are different options about the application of each to different populations as well as their strengths and limitations.43 Therefore, practitioners should keep themselves up-to-date with ongoing discussions and relevance in medical education. Third, using theories while advising students requires practice as well as knowledge, experience, and time. Therefore, advisors in medical education will need in-depth training in the theoretical approaches they want to use in practice. 
Conclusion
This article explores current learning theories that can be used to understand a medical student who is struggling. It also describes many pathways that an academic advisor can suggest while mentoring students who are performing poorly academically. Many times, students are aware of the issues that hinder their progress in medical school, but they cannot visualize how strong the impact is on their day-to-day life. Our review outlines how choice of a specific theory can help and support the advisor in guiding students, because medical students who are struggling may present themselves with multiple academic needs. It is important to identify the risk factors early and provide much-needed guidance to the medical students who are struggling. An early intervention for medical student who are struggling (during the first 2 years of medical education) will help provide support and direction, potentially preventing repeated failures and attrition. 
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Table.
Hypothetical Application of Theoretical Approaches During Academic Advising.
Challenge Applicable Learning Theory Suggested Approach
Difficulty in integrating multiple concepts from coursework ▪ Cognitivism
▪ Self-Efficacy
Use of concept maps and reflective thinking. Examples of concepts maps could be types of neurons and image examples of each, or defining a few epithelial cell disorders such as Kartagener syndrome, cystic fibrosis, and Barret esophagus with gastroesophageal reflux.
Difficulty with memorization Behaviorism Advisors can discuss several strategies, including memorization techniques such as mnemonics, testing, flashcards, and spaced repetition.
Multiple failures in coursework and board examinations ▪ Cognitivism
▪ Self-Efficacy
Many students engage in ineffective methods of studying, for instance spending more time than their peers in extensive notetaking and reading the same resource multiple times. Ineffective studying strategies can result in repetitive failures, which strengthen the student's belief of being a low achiever, inducing low self-esteem and self-worth. Academic advisors can provide support by motivating students to develop confidence in completing their tasks.
Unable to focus on suitable resources for concept learning ▪ Cognitivism
▪ Social Learning
Sometimes students are overwhelmed and confused over the most appropriate resource to pass the course/board examination. In situations like these, students should be advised to focus on fewer resources. Another approach could be to pair a low-achieving learner with a high-achieving learner. High-achieving learners can share the materials or resources that have been successful for their academic learning. Many schools provide resources such as study groups and informal sessions that facilitate a learning environment through role modeling, which can benefit students who are struggling.
Difficulty with test performance Social Learning Modeling a behaviorist approach can help guide students to meet with peers who have taken similar examinations and understand test taking strategies.
Lack of family support Acculturation Academic advisors should be sensitive to each student's value and belief system and, at the same time, probe deeper to extract the underlying issue behind poor academic performance. Students can get distracted during the study track and blame it on family and culture. It is necessary to distinguish an actual problem from an excuse to avoid stressful scenarios.
Competing priorities between academics and personal life Acculturation Students can encounter chaos and conflict at home. Culture may or may not always have a role in how the family environment affects the student's academic achievement. However, it is important to address the situation and if possible, distract them from the chaos so they can concentrate on their immediate priorities. Strategies for effective distraction should be discussed with the student.
Failure to seek assistance when needed Acculturation Students from multicultural backgrounds avoid asking questions out of a culturally biased respect for the educator or not wanting to create additional burden for people in authority. Academic advisors provide the necessary support and empower students by connecting them with appropriate resources.
Low self-esteem Constructivism It is important to understand why the student failed. Was it poor performance, anxiety, not studying, family circumstances, difficulty in comprehending material, or low self-esteem?
Ineffective time management skills Constructivism Students can be mentored to outline small tasks/activities to be completed in a specific timeframe. For example, if a student is having trouble studying multiple assignments or test questions, a simple study guide that breaks the tasks into a daily, weekly, or monthly schedule based on the student's convenience can facilitate completion of work in a timely manner. This does not mean that advisors task themselves in creating a study plan, but rather they facilitate the process so that the student can be motivated to self-navigate the educational system. A learner who is struggling will be able to develop time-management skills appropriate for the study period.
Table.
Hypothetical Application of Theoretical Approaches During Academic Advising.
Challenge Applicable Learning Theory Suggested Approach
Difficulty in integrating multiple concepts from coursework ▪ Cognitivism
▪ Self-Efficacy
Use of concept maps and reflective thinking. Examples of concepts maps could be types of neurons and image examples of each, or defining a few epithelial cell disorders such as Kartagener syndrome, cystic fibrosis, and Barret esophagus with gastroesophageal reflux.
Difficulty with memorization Behaviorism Advisors can discuss several strategies, including memorization techniques such as mnemonics, testing, flashcards, and spaced repetition.
Multiple failures in coursework and board examinations ▪ Cognitivism
▪ Self-Efficacy
Many students engage in ineffective methods of studying, for instance spending more time than their peers in extensive notetaking and reading the same resource multiple times. Ineffective studying strategies can result in repetitive failures, which strengthen the student's belief of being a low achiever, inducing low self-esteem and self-worth. Academic advisors can provide support by motivating students to develop confidence in completing their tasks.
Unable to focus on suitable resources for concept learning ▪ Cognitivism
▪ Social Learning
Sometimes students are overwhelmed and confused over the most appropriate resource to pass the course/board examination. In situations like these, students should be advised to focus on fewer resources. Another approach could be to pair a low-achieving learner with a high-achieving learner. High-achieving learners can share the materials or resources that have been successful for their academic learning. Many schools provide resources such as study groups and informal sessions that facilitate a learning environment through role modeling, which can benefit students who are struggling.
Difficulty with test performance Social Learning Modeling a behaviorist approach can help guide students to meet with peers who have taken similar examinations and understand test taking strategies.
Lack of family support Acculturation Academic advisors should be sensitive to each student's value and belief system and, at the same time, probe deeper to extract the underlying issue behind poor academic performance. Students can get distracted during the study track and blame it on family and culture. It is necessary to distinguish an actual problem from an excuse to avoid stressful scenarios.
Competing priorities between academics and personal life Acculturation Students can encounter chaos and conflict at home. Culture may or may not always have a role in how the family environment affects the student's academic achievement. However, it is important to address the situation and if possible, distract them from the chaos so they can concentrate on their immediate priorities. Strategies for effective distraction should be discussed with the student.
Failure to seek assistance when needed Acculturation Students from multicultural backgrounds avoid asking questions out of a culturally biased respect for the educator or not wanting to create additional burden for people in authority. Academic advisors provide the necessary support and empower students by connecting them with appropriate resources.
Low self-esteem Constructivism It is important to understand why the student failed. Was it poor performance, anxiety, not studying, family circumstances, difficulty in comprehending material, or low self-esteem?
Ineffective time management skills Constructivism Students can be mentored to outline small tasks/activities to be completed in a specific timeframe. For example, if a student is having trouble studying multiple assignments or test questions, a simple study guide that breaks the tasks into a daily, weekly, or monthly schedule based on the student's convenience can facilitate completion of work in a timely manner. This does not mean that advisors task themselves in creating a study plan, but rather they facilitate the process so that the student can be motivated to self-navigate the educational system. A learner who is struggling will be able to develop time-management skills appropriate for the study period.
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