Newswise — Madison, Wis. (June 22, 2022)—Journaling helped medical students improve their study habits, as well as their physical and mental health and self-confidence, according to a study from Universidad de los Andes in Colombia. Physiology educator-researchers will present their findings this week at the American Physiological Society (APS) Institute on Teaching and Learning in Madison, Wisconsin. 

The study was conducted on students attending a medical pharmacology course. In their journal, students answered four to five questions about their experience in the course and any personal challenges in a weekly survey. The questions fell into the categories of emotional and health perception, goals and commitments, study method and habits, learning perception, and teamwork. In a separate survey at the end the semester, students made the following assessments about the usefulness of journaling:

  • 85% said it helped them achieve their goals,
  • 69% said it helped organize their homework and assignments,
  • 57% said it improved their physical and mental health,
  • 54% said it improved their communication skills, and
  • 51% said it improved their self-confidence. 

The findings suggest journaling is a cost-effective way to:

  • promote better study habits and activity planning for university students,
  • promote a space for reflection about academic life,
  • allow professors a chance to see real-time challenges and motivations of students, and
  • serves as an effective tool to guide rapid adaptations of activities and content in the curriculum of biomedical courses. 

Ricardo A. Pena-Silva, MD, PhD, is first author of the study. He reported at the end of the study 83% of student participants said they plan to continue journaling to boost their time management skills. “This is an important achievement given the emotional stress, anxiety and burnout of many medical students, especially during the pandemic,” Pena-Silva said. “Journaling is an easily implementable method to promote metacognition and mental health in students of biomedical careers.”

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: The APS Institute on Teaching and Learning will be held June 21–24 in Madison, Wisconsin. To schedule an interview with the researchers or request a copy of abstract 1069 “Journaling and students’ response systems are effective tools to promote metacognition and monitor well-being in a medical pharmacology course,” contact APS Media Relations or call 301.634.7314. Find more highlights in our Newsroom


Physiology is a broad area of scientific inquiry that focuses on how molecules, cells, tissues and organs function in health and disease. The American Physiological Society connects a global, multidisciplinary community of more than 10,000 biomedical scientists and educators as part of its mission to advance scientific discovery, understand life and improve health. The Society drives collaboration and spotlights scientific discoveries through its 16 scholarly journals and programming that support researchers and educators in their work. 

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American Physiological Society (APS) Institute on Teaching and Learning