In sport and now in medical school: examining students’ well-being and motivations for learning

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  • Objectives: To investigate relationships between students’ past level of involvement in physical activity/sport and their motivations for learning (achievement goals) and well-being in medical school. In doing so, we provide evidence to medical programs to inform admission processes and curriculum planning.Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted. Out of 640 medical students, 267 completed an online questionnaire with measures of: achievement goals, academic burnout, physical activity/sport involvement, and demographics. Data were analyzed using descriptive and inferential statistics (frequency, mean, standard deviation, chi-square test, Cronbach alpha, Spearman correlation). Results: Students who had pursued physical activity/sport at higher levels of involvement had lower academic burnout scores and endorsed maladaptive achievement goals to a less degree. Specifically, the level of students’ involvement in physical activity/sport was negatively correlated with academic burnout (r=-0.15, p=0.014) and with achievement goals of performance approach (r=-0.15, p=0.014), performance avoidance (r=-0.21, p=0.001), and mastery avoidance (r = -0.24, p<0.001). Conclusions: Pursuit of dedicated personal activities such as sport appears to be associated with the desired quality of motivation and well-being of medical students. A school culture that fosters resilience of newly admitted students through extracurricular activities and raises students’ awareness of maladaptive and adaptive achievement goals is likely to be beneficial in addressing academic burnout and improving the mental health of medical students. Keywords: Medical students, sport, motivation, well-being, admission

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    Article (Published)
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    Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International
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    • Babenko, O., & Mosewich, A. (2017). In sport and now in medical school: Examining motivation and well-being of high-achieving students. International Journal of Medical Education, 8, 336-342. DOI:
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