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Spaced Repetition Flashcards for Teaching Medical Students Psychiatry



Retrieval practice, often using electronic flashcards, is increasingly utilized among medical students for self-study. In this study, the authors evaluated usage and satisfaction with electronic flashcards based on a medical school psychiatry curriculum.


First-year medical students at one institution consented to participate and received access to a set of pre-made flashcards. Surveys were distributed that collected demographic information along with measures of prior performance, test anxiety, and prior experience with electronic flashcards. The total number of flashcard reviews and time spent on the platform for each student were collected using statistics internally generated by the platform. Each student’s final exam score was also collected.


A total of 114 of 129 first year medical students (88%) consented to participate, and 101 students were included in the final analysis. Fifty-eight (56%) were flashcard users with a median of 660 flashcards studied over 2.95 h. A total of 87% of flashcard users found the flashcards to be helpful, and 83% of flashcard users would recommend the flashcards to someone else. Flashcard usage was not associated with final exam scores.


This novel electronic study resource was well-received by first-year medical students for psychiatric instruction in medical school, though usage was not associated with higher exam scores.

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Data Availability

The datasets generated during and/or analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.


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Correspondence to Michael Sun.

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Sun, M., Tsai, S., Engle, D.L. et al. Spaced Repetition Flashcards for Teaching Medical Students Psychiatry. Med.Sci.Educ. 31, 1125–1131 (2021).

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