Date of Award

January 2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Foundations & Research

First Advisor

Virginia Clinton-Lissel


Self-regulation and goal orientation both play a crucial role in how medical providers learn and master the knowledge and skills that they will use throughout their careers. It is crucial that practicing physician assistants (PAs) and physicians know how to self-regulate their thoughts and actions and when to use resources such as research and peer advice (Ericsson, 2015). This research investigated self-regulation and goal orientation in the clinical training of PA and medical students, examined differences between PA and medical students, and provided insight into how goal orientation and self-regulation play a role in the education of these professionals. It was hypothesized that students with adaptive learning behaviors would be more likely to have goal orientations focused on self-improvement and mastery of goals. It was also hypothesized that students with maladaptive learning behaviors would have goal orientations that focused more on achievement for external reasons such as higher grades. Participants (n = 95) in this cross-sectional study were in the clinical phase of their education. The instrument used in the study was a 40-item survey (Artino et al., 2012) that measured multiple aspects of learning behaviors and goal orientation structures. The finding suggested that PA and medical students that tend to have adaptive learning behaviors generally take a more mastery goal orientation toward their clinical education and that PA students are more likely to ask for help when needed. This study helps to add further evidence to how these medical professionals think about and regulate their learning in their current education and, quite possibly, into their future medical practices.