Impact of experiential learning among medical undergraduates: A randomized controlled trial

J Educ Health Promot. 2020 Nov 26;9:306. doi: 10.4103/jehp.jehp_462_20. eCollection 2020.


Background: Experiential learning sessions as a teaching aid have been applied early in the medical undergraduate curriculum to improve the knowledge and inculcate research interest. We compared the ability of 1st-year medical undergraduates to answer the molecular biology questions among those who had attended the experiential learning sessions of molecular biology techniques versus those who did not attend.

Subjects and methods: A randomized controlled trial was carried out with 200 1st-year medical undergraduates, among whom 69 students were selected by simple random sampling for the demonstration of the molecular biology techniques, such as isolation of genomic DNA, polymerase chain reaction, cell culture techniques, western blotting, and high-performance liquid chromatography for 1-week duration. Student's feedback was collected on a five-point Likert sc ale at the end of the session to understand how they agree or disagree with a particular statement. The content validity rate (CVR) and content validity index (CVI) of the questionnaire were determined, and its internal consistency was examined by Cronbach's alpha. The internal assessment marks of these students, valued by faculty who were blinded to their training sessions, were compared with the rest of the 131 students by independent t-test to know the outcome of these experiential learning sessions.

Results: On CVR and CVI assessment, all the questions scored more than 0.70 and 0.85, respectively. Cronbach's alpha for the whole questionnaire was 0.85. Student's feedback indicated that these sessions did complement the cognitive skills acquired for these techniques. We also found a statistically significant improvement (P = 0.006) in the examination performance between the students who attended versus those who did not attend the experiential learning sessions.

Conclusion: Experiential learning, through demonstration and hands-on experience, enhance d the learning of molecular biology techniques among 1st-year medical undergraduates.

Keywords: Cell culture techniques; medical education; molecular biology; polymerase chain reaction; western blotting.