The compressed curriculum in modern knowledge-intensive medicine demands useful tools to achieve approved learning aims in a limited space of time. Web-based learning can be used in different ways to enhance learning. Little is however known regarding its optimal utilisation. Our aim was to investigate if the individual learning styles of medical students influence the choice to use a web-based ECG learning programme in a blended learning setting.
The programme, with three types of modules (learning content, self-assessment questions and interactive ECG interpretation training), was offered on a voluntary basis during a face to face ECG learning course for undergraduate medical students. The Index of Learning Styles (ILS) and a general questionnaire including questions about computer and Internet usage, preferred future speciality and prior experience of E-learning were used to explore different factors related to the choice of using the programme or not.
93 (76%) out of 123 students answered the ILS instrument and 91 the general questionnaire. 55 students (59%) were defined as users of the web-based ECG-interpretation programme. Cronbach's alpha was analysed with coefficients above 0.7 in all of the four dimensions of ILS. There were no significant differences with regard to learning styles, as assessed by ILS, between the user and non-user groups; Active/Reflective; Visual/Verbal; Sensing/Intuitive; and Sequential/Global (p = 0.56-0.96). Neither did gender, prior experience of E-learning or preference for future speciality differ between groups.
Among medical students, neither learning styles according to ILS, nor a number of other characteristics seem to influence the choice to use a web-based ECG programme. This finding was consistent also when the usage of the different modules in the programme were considered. Thus, the findings suggest that web-based learning may attract a broad variety of medical students.
Cites: Ann Intern Med. 2003 May 6;138(9):747-5012729430
What is the source of inadequate performance in the operating room? Is it a lack of technical skills, poor judgment or a lack of procedural knowledge? We created a surgical procedural knowledge (SPK) assessment tool and evaluated its use.
We interviewed medical students, residents and training program staff on SPK assessment tools developed for 3 different common general surgery procedures: inguinal hernia repair with mesh in men, laparoscopic cholecystectomy and right hemicolectomy. The tools were developed as a step-wise assessment of specific surgical procedures based on techniques described in a current surgical text. We compared novice (medical student to postgraduate year [PGY]-2) and expert group (PGY-3 to program staff) scores using the Mann-Whitney U test. We calculated the total SPK score and defined a cut-off score using receiver operating characteristic analysis.
In all, 5 participants in 7 different training groups (n = 35) underwent an interview. Median scores for each procedure and overall SPK scores increased with experience. The median SPK for novices was 54.9 (95% confidence interval [CI] 21.6-58.8) compared with 98.05 (95% CP 94.1-100.0) for experts (p = 0.012). The SPK cut-off score of 93.1 discriminates between novice and expert surgeons.
Surgical procedural knowledge can reliably be assessed using our SPK assessment tool. It can discriminate between novice and expert surgeons for common general surgical procedures. Future studies are planned to evaluate its use for more complex procedures.
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The Student Counselling Service at the Faculty of Health Sciences, Aarhus University, Denmark, has experienced an increase in medical students with poor mental well-being.
This was a descriptive, retrospective survey of 1,056 medical students commencing their studies in the period from September 2003 to February 2006. The study had a four-year follow-up period. Demographics, delay, discontinuation and dispensations were determined. Each application was reviewed and the reasons why each student applied were recorded.
Applicants were significantly older than non-applicants. 90.9% of the dispensations were related to first-year examinations (50 students). A significantly higher number of dispensation applicants (58.2%) discontinued their studies (32 students) compared with dispensation non-applicants. 54.6% of the applicants (30 students) did not pass their first-year examinations. The study time was delayed by more than two years among 67.3% of the applicants (37 students). 27.3% of the applicants were students with a foreign qualifying exam (15 students). Females listed mainly emotional reasons in their applications. Such reasons included, among others, depression, stress and anxiety. In contrast, males listed study- and family-related issues.
Focused student counselling is recommended for all students of medicine, especially in the first year of their studies. Furthermore, lessons aiming to build study skills and teach students how to cope with study-related stress and exam-related anxiety are recommended. Particular attention should be given to foreign students. Each applicant should be advised individually.