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    Academic failure is common among medical schools worldwide. However, the process behind this failure itself is underexplored. A deeper understanding of this phenomenon may avert the vicious cycle of academic failure. Hence, this study investigated the process of academic failure among medical students in Year 1. This study employed a document phenomenological approach, which is a systematic process to examine documents, interpret them to attain understanding, and develop empirical knowledge of the phenomenon studied. Using document analysis, interview transcripts and reflective essays of 16 Year 1 medical students who experienced academic failure were analysed. Based on this analysis, codes were developed and further reduced into categories and themes. Thirty categories in eight themes were linked to make sense of the series of events leading to academic failure. One or more critical incidents commenced during the academic year, which led to possible resulting events. The students had poor attitudes, ineffective learning methods, health problems or stress. Students progressed to mid-year assessments and reacted differently to their results in the assessments. Afterwards, the students tried different types of attempts, and they still failed the end-of-year assessments. The general process of academic failure is illustrated in a diagram describing chronological events. Academic failure may be explained by a series of events (and consequences) of what students experience and do and how they respond to their experiences. Preventing a preceding event may prevent students from suffering these consequences. © 2023. The Author(s).


    Nurul Atira Khairul Anhar Holder, Vinod Pallath, Jamuna Vadivelu, Chan Choong Foong. Using document phenomenology to investigate academic failure among year 1 undergraduate Malaysian medical students. BMC medical education. 2023 May 05;23(1):310

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    PMID: 37147649

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