Comparison of a web-based package with tutor-based methods of teaching respiratory medicine: subjective and objective evaluations

BMC Med Educ. 2007 Nov 1;7:41. doi: 10.1186/1472-6920-7-41.

Abstract

Background: Respiratory disease is a major cause of morbidity and mortality not only in the United Kingdom, but globally. A good understanding of respiratory disease and its treatment is essential for all medical graduates. As a result of changes in clinical practice, patients with some common respiratory illnesses are less often admitted to hospital, restricting the experience available to undergraduate students. Combined with a potential shortage of clinical teachers, this means that new methods of teaching need to be developed and appraised. The aim of this study was to establish whether a web-based package on the diagnosis of respiratory disease would be as effective and as acceptable to final year medical students as tutor-led methods of teaching the same material.

Methods: 137 out of 315 final year undergraduate students in a single medical school volunteered to take part. Each received up to two hours of tutor-lead interactive, tutor-lead didactic or electronic, Web-based teaching on the accurate diagnosis and management of respiratory disease. Post teaching performance was assessed by multiple true/false questions and data interpretation exercises, whilst students' teaching preferences were assessed by questionnaire.

Results: Despite a high knowledge baseline before the study, there was a small, but statistically significant increase in knowledge score after all forms of teaching. Similarly, data interpretation skills improved in all groups, irrespective of teaching format, Although paradoxically most students expressed a preference for interactive tutor-lead teaching, spirometry interpretation in those receiving web-based teaching improved significantly more [p = 0.041] than in those in the interactive group.

Conclusion: Web-based teaching is at least as good as other teaching formats, but we need to overcome students' reluctance to engage with this teaching method.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Clinical Competence*
  • Clinical Medicine / education
  • Computer-Assisted Instruction*
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate / organization & administration*
  • Educational Measurement
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Male
  • Probability
  • Problem-Based Learning / organization & administration*
  • Program Evaluation
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / diagnosis
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / therapy
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Students, Medical
  • Teaching Materials