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The hidden medical school: A longitudinal study of how social networks form, and how they relate to academic performance

Woolf, K; Potts, H; Patel, S; McManus, C; (2012) The hidden medical school: A longitudinal study of how social networks form, and how they relate to academic performance. Medical Teacher , 34 (7) pp. 577-586. 10.3109/0142159X.2012.669082. Green open access

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Abstract

UK medical schools typically have over 300 students per year, making it impossible for students to know all the others well. This longitudinal cohort study measured the formation of medical student social networks and their relationship to grades. In November 2009, 215/317 (68%) Year 2 UCL medical students reported their friendships with others in their year. Multiple regression showed that students of the same sex, the same ethnic group, and in the same tutor and small groups (to which they were randomly assigned at the start of medical school) were socially closer. Taking into account absolute difference in Year 1 grades, Year 2 student pairs who were socially closer in November 2009 had more similar May 2010 grades. Individual student variables did not predict similarity in May 2010 grades after taking friendships into account. Statistical significance was assessed by comparing the regression results with 10,000 random results calculated using a quadratic assignment procedure. The results suggest that medical students chose friends of the same sex and ethnic group as themselves; but random allocation of students to tutor groups also influenced friendships. Most importantly, friendships were related to subsequent exam performance, suggesting friendship may influence learning.

Type:Article
Title:The hidden medical school: A longitudinal study of how social networks form, and how they relate to academic performance
Location:UK
Open access status:An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI:10.3109/0142159X.2012.669082
Publisher version:http://dx.doi.org/10.3109/0142159X.2012.669082
Language:English
Additional information:This is an electronic version of an article published in Woolf, K and Potts, H and Patel, S and McManus, C (2012) The hidden medical school: A longitudinal study of how social networks form, and how they relate to academic performance. Medical Teacher , 34 (7) pp. 577-586. Medical Teacher is available online at informaworldTM http://dx.doi.org/10.3109/0142159X.2012.669082
UCL classification:UCL > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences > UCL Medical School > Academic Centre of Medical Education
UCL > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences > UCL Medical School > Academic Centre of Medical Education
UCL > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care > CHIME

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