Background: Curriculum-wide implementation of computer-based learning (CBL) in undergraduate medical education remains elusive. Unlike many pilot tests of singular learning programmes, dropout rates are high and acceptance seems low in the long run. We studied the effect of a new CBL programme, suitable for curriculum-wide implementation, on Year 3 medical students' attitudes towards CBL.
Methods: Students from 2 universities participating in a mandatory pharmacology course were given access to a CBL programme covering cardiovascular drug therapy in a controlled randomised study (n = 167). Learner properties and attitude towards CBL were measured using psychometric scales, and knowledge by multiple-choice questions (pre- and post-test).
Results: Attitude towards CBL worsened in the CBL group (n = 70). Individual learners' properties did not explain this effect. The perceived programme quality was rated only 'average', which may contribute to the lower post-test values of attitude towards CBL. Learning outcomes were similar between the control group (n = 97) and students using CBL (n = 44). Learning efforts were shifted from self-study towards CBL.
Conclusion: The initial enthusiasm of students was not maintained when using a programme designed to complement or even replace traditional teaching. Curriculum-wide implementation of CBL might be hampered by the discouragement of users.