Background Informal learning refers to learners-sponsored, monitored and regulated learning method, which lays the foundation for medical life-long education of residents with sustainable self-learning ability and permanent learning behaviors. In this article the authors explore the academic value and significance in informal learning to improve the effectiveness for the standardized residency training in the context of “Internet plus” which combines technology with education to promote reforms for learning patterns. Standardized residency training started relatively late in China and there are less empirical studies targeted for the medical students in this phase. Based on it, this study aims to explore online informal learning behavior of medical students in residency training.
Methods An empirical study was performed at the Fourth Hospital of Hebei Medical University in China where postgraduate medical education is being conducted. The study was implemented by questionnaire of the following aspects related to informal learning of residents as learning attitude, motivation, behavior and utilization of learning resources. Learning efficiency before and during COVID-19 is specifically surveyed and analyzed. 451 valid samples were collected to understand the situation of informal learning in the context of “Internet plus” and to find out interconnections among variables. The data from questionnaire has been analyzed through descriptive analysis, difference analysis and correlation regression analysis.
Results Informal learning attitudes of residents in standardized training are of high recognition and strong learning belief but need better self-management; The intervention between informal learning motivation and behavior among the levels of self-control, learning target and utilization of online resources resulting in great influence of environmental and individual factors on self-efficacy. Relative weak ability appears in choosing, screening and utilizing effective information online without effective guidance from teachers.
Conclusions In this study we innovatively propose appropriate and practical suggestions for researching methods in informal learning of postgraduate medical education in clinical setting during intensive online learning during COVID-19 period. The findings of this research have great significance in guiding learning paths, effects and development for informal learning of residents and put forward effective measures for the development of positive and sustainable informal learning in future career of the doctors-to-be.