School of Education


Doctor of Philosophy in Education (PhD)


Megan Cordes


medical education, remediation, transcendental phenomenology, failure, osteopathic


Education | Medicine and Health Sciences


The purpose of this transcendental phenomenological study was to understand the lived experience of academic remediation for medical students at an osteopathic medical school. Two theories guided this study: Bronfenbrenner and Ceci’s bioecological theory and Tajfel and Turner’s social identity theory. Research questions focused on understanding the emotional experience of failure within the medical education context, and the subsequent experience of involvement in the academic remediation process. Purposeful sampling was used to identify 10 medical students who did not pass one or more courses in their didactic curricula and underwent academic remediation as a result. The central question guiding this study asked, “How do medical students describe the experience of academic course remediation at an osteopathic medical school?” Data collection included semi-structured interviews, participant journaling, and projective techniques. The data were analyzed in a manner consistent with the transcendental phenomenological methods of bracketing, horizonalization, clustering into themes, textural descriptions, structural descriptions, and textural-structural synthesis, resulting in a description of the essence of the phenomenon. Findings from this study confirm prior research into the burnout newly matriculated student doctors face as a result of the demanding medical school application cycle, and also add new knowledge about the willingness of medical students to view course failure as a useful, formative part of the learning process. Participants shared that remediation means going on an emotional journey that starts with shock or dread, transitions into acute stress, fades into productivity, and tends to resolve with a crescendo of relief if the remediation is passed.