The impact of writing on academic performance for medical students

Songeui Kim, Ji Won Yang, Jaeseo Lim, Seunghee Lee, Jungjoon Ihm, Jooyong Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Writing is a useful learning activity that promotes higher-order thinking, but there are limited studies that prove its effectiveness. In previous research, researchers tested the effect of summary writing on students’ comprehension and found no significant difference from that of re-studying texts. The purpose of this study, therefore, is to expand previous findings and investigate the effect of two types of writing tasks on medical students’ academic performance, specifically in the transfer of knowledge. Methods: An experiment was conducted with 139 medical students from Seoul National University College of Medicine. They were randomly assigned to three study conditions: self-study (SS), expository writing (EW), and argumentative writing (AW) group. Each group studied the given material by the method they were assigned, and they were tested on their comprehension and transfer of knowledge using rote-memory type items and transfer type items respectively. Results: The results showed that the two writing groups displayed better performance than the SS group in transfer type items, while there was no difference in scores between the EW and AW group. However, the three groups showed no significant difference in their scores for rote-memory type items. Also, there was a positive correlation between the writing scores and transfer type item scores in the AW group. Conclusions: This study provides empirical evidence for writing to be adopted in medical education for greater educational benefits. Our findings indicate that writing can enhance learning and higher-order thinking, which are critical for medical students.

Original languageEnglish
Article number61
JournalBMC Medical Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Academic performance
  • Effects of writing
  • Higher-order thinking
  • Medical education


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