Background: Didactic lectures have been the mainstay of core teaching in the surgical residency program at our school. Our concerns about the educational impact of these passive activities led us to consider more interactive teaching approaches.
Methods: We developed an interactive games-based approach to learning. One set of games was labeled "Who wants to be a Surgeon" (WS) and the other was called "Senior Face-off" (SF). We evaluated the impact of this innovation using an end-of-year questionnaire.
Results: Enjoyment, teaching quality and preference over lectures were high for both games. However, the WS sparked interest significantly more in junior residents (4.3 +/- 0.21 vs 3.3 +/- 0.31, p = 0.015) and senior residents found both games more stressful than did junior residents (WS: 2.88 +/- 0.32 vs 2.00 +/- 0.21, p = 0.038, and SF: 3.54 +/- 0.29 vs 1.80 +/- 0.33, p = 0.001).
Conclusions: This innovative teaching technique promoted learner interest and was regarded as a worthwhile educational activity. Games with a competitive emphasis may unduly stress senior residents.