Blending Gagne's Instructional Model with Peyton's Approach to Design an Introductory Bioinformatics Lesson Plan for Medical Students: Proof-of-Concept Study

JMIR Med Educ. 2018 Oct 25;4(2):e11122. doi: 10.2196/11122.


Background: With the rapid integration of genetics into medicine, it has become evident that practicing physicians as well as medical students and clinical researchers need to be updated on the fundamentals of bioinformatics. To achieve this, the following gaps need to be addressed: a lack of defined learning objectives for "Bioinformatics for Medical Practitioner" courses, an absence of a structured lesson plan to disseminate the learning objectives, and no defined step-by-step strategy to teach the essentials of bioinformatics in the medical curriculum.

Objective: The objective of this study was to address these gaps to design a streamlined pedagogical strategy for teaching basics of bioinformatics in the undergraduate medical curriculum.

Methods: The established instructional design strategies employed in medical education-Gagne's 9 events of instruction-were followed with further contributions from Peyton's four-step approach to design a structured lesson plan in bioinformatics.

Results: First, we defined the specifics of bioinformatics that a medical student or health care professional should be introduced to use this knowledge in a clinical context. Second, we designed a structured lesson plan using a blended approach from both Gagne's and Peyton's instructional models. Lastly, we delineated a step-by-step strategy employing free Web-based bioinformatics module, combining it with a clinical scenario of familial hypercholesterolemia to disseminate the defined specifics of bioinformatics. Implementation of Schon's reflective practice model indicated that the activity was stimulating for the students with favorable outcomes regarding their basic training in bioinformatics.

Conclusions: To the best of our knowledge, the present lesson plan is the first that outlines an effective dissemination strategy for integrating introductory bioinformatics into a medical curriculum. Further, the lesson plan blueprint can be used to develop similar skills in workshops, continuing professional development, or continuing medical education events to introduce bioinformatics to practicing physicians.

Keywords: Gagne’s instructional model; Peyton’s approach; bioinformatics; genetics; lesson plan; medical education; undergraduate medical education.