Comparing three pedagogical approaches to psychomotor skills acquisition

Am J Surg. 2012 Jan;203(1):8-13. doi: 10.1016/j.amjsurg.2011.07.002. Epub 2011 Nov 16.


Background: We compared traditional pedagogical approaches such as time- and repetition-based methods with proficiency-based training.

Methods: Laparoscopic novices were assigned randomly to 1 of 3 training conditions. In experiment 1, participants in the time condition practiced for 60 minutes, participants in the repetition condition performed 5 practice trials, and participants in the proficiency condition trained until reaching a predetermined proficiency goal. In experiment 2, practice time and number of trials were equated across conditions.

Results: In experiment 1, participants in the proficiency-based training conditions outperformed participants in the other 2 conditions (P < .014); however, these participants trained longer (P < .001) and performed more repetitions (P < .001). In experiment 2, despite training for similar amounts of time and number of repetitions, participants in the proficiency condition outperformed their counterparts (P < .038). In both experiments, the standard deviations for the proficiency condition were smaller than the other conditions.

Conclusions: Proficiency-based training results in trainees who perform uniformly and at a higher level than traditional training methodologies.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Clinical Competence
  • Competency-Based Education / methods*
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate / methods*
  • Educational Measurement
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Laparoscopy / education*
  • Male
  • Models, Educational*
  • Psychomotor Performance*
  • Suture Techniques
  • Time Factors