Original Research

Training and assessing undergraduate medical students’ research: Learning, engagement and experiences of students and staff

Saajida Mahomed, Andrew Ross, Jacqueline van Wyk
African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine | Vol 13, No 1 | a2559 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/phcfm.v13i1.2559 | © 2021 Saajida Mahomed, Andrew Ross, Jacqueline van Wyk | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 20 May 2020 | Published: 15 January 2021

About the author(s)

Saajida Mahomed, School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Andrew Ross, School of Nursing and Public Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Jacqueline van Wyk, School of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa


Background: The development of research skills is an important aspect of undergraduate medical training that facilitates the practice of evidence-based medicine. The inclusion of research training into undergraduate medical curricula can take various formats and is compulsory for all students at the Nelson R. Mandela School of Medicine (NRMSM). The evaluation of this training is important, both to ensure that students obtain the required research skills and to improve the quality of the training.

Aim: The aim of this study was to evaluate undergraduate medical students’ and staff learning, engagement and experiences in the training and assessment of third-year research projects.

Setting: This research was conducted at NRMSM, South Africa.

Methods: Questionnaires were administered to third-year medical students after they completed their research project poster presentations and to the staff who assessed the presentations. Responses to the learning process, group work, alignment between module outcomes and assessment and the benefits of poster presentations were assessed.

Results: A total of 215 students and 10 staff completed the questionnaire. Many students reported having enjoyed learning about research (78%) and that the training activities facilitated their understanding of the research process (84%). The majority of students (86%) and staff (80%) perceived the posters as an effective way to demonstrate students’ ability to collect, analyse and interpret data.

Conclusion: Staff and students viewed the research process positively and reported that the poster presentations were an effective way to assess research.


research skills; undergraduate medical training; education; medical students; South Africa


Total abstract views: 3392
Total article views: 3482


Crossref Citations

1. Supporting undergraduate research capacity development: A process evaluation of an Undergraduate Research Office at a South African Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
D L Marais, NC Gey van Pittius
African Journal of Health Professions Education  first page: 193  year: 2022  
doi: 10.7196/AJHPE.2022.v14i4.1592