Open Access Open Badges Research article

Motivational component profiles in university students learning histology: a comparative study between genders and different health science curricula

Antonio Campos-Sánchez12, Juan Antonio López-Núñez2, Víctor Carriel1, Miguel-Ángel Martín-Piedra1, Tomás Sola2 and Miguel Alaminos1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Histology, School of Medicine, University of Granada, Avenida de Madrid, 11 E18071 Granada, Spain

2 Department of Didactics and School Organization, School of Education, University of Granada, Campus de Cartuja, E18071 Granada, Spain

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BMC Medical Education 2014, 14:46  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-14-46

Published: 10 March 2014



The students’ motivation to learn basic sciences in health science curricula is poorly understood. The purpose of this study was to investigate the influence of different components of motivation (intrinsic motivation, self-determination, self-efficacy and extrinsic -career and grade- motivation) on learning human histology in health science curricula and their relationship with the final performance of the students in histology.


Glynn Science Motivation Questionnaire II was used to compare students’ motivation components to learn histology in 367 first-year male and female undergraduate students enrolled in medical, dentistry and pharmacy degree programs.


For intrinsic motivation, career motivation and self-efficacy, the highest values corresponded to medical students, whereas dentistry students showed the highest values for self-determination and grade motivation. Genders differences were found for career motivation in medicine, self-efficacy in dentistry, and intrinsic motivation, self-determination and grade motivation in pharmacy. Career motivation and self-efficacy components correlated with final performance in histology of the students corresponding to the three curricula.


Our results show that the overall motivational profile for learning histology differs among medical, dentistry and pharmacy students. This finding is potentially useful to foster their learning process, because if they are metacognitively aware of their motivation they will be better equipped to self-regulate their science-learning behavior in histology. This information could be useful for instructors and education policy makers to enhance curricula not only on the cognitive component of learning but also to integrate students’ levels and types of motivation into the processes of planning, delivery and evaluation of medical education.

Motivation; Components; Curriculum; Histology; Health sciences