An adaptive blended learning model for the implementation of an integrated medical neuroscience course during the Covid-19 pandemic

Anat Sci Educ. 2021 Apr 29. doi: 10.1002/ase.2097. Online ahead of print.


The implementation of an integrated medical neuroscience course by technologically pivoting an in-person neuroscience course to online using an adaptive blended method may provide a unique approach for teaching a medical neuroscience course during the Covid-19 pandemic. An adaptive blended learning method was developed in response to the requirements necessitated by the Covid-19 pandemic. This model combined pedagogical needs with digital technology using online learning activities to implement student learning in a medical neuroscience course for year one medical students. This approach provided medical students with an individually customized learning opportunity in medical neuroscience. The students had the complete choice to engage the learning system synchronously or asynchronously and learn neuroscience materials at different locations and times in response to the demands required to deal with the pandemic. Students' performance in summative and formative examinations of the adaptive blended learning activities were compared with the previous performance obtained the previous year when the contents of the medical neuroscience course were implemented using the conventional "face-to-face" learning approach. While the cohort of our students in 2019 and 2020 changed, the contents, sessions, volume of material and assessment were constant. This enabled us to compare the results of the 2019 and 2020 classes. Overall, students' performance was not significantly different between the adaptive blended learning and the in-person approach. More students scored between 70-79% during the adaptive blended learning compared with in-class teaching, while more students scored between 80-89% during the in-person learning than during the adaptive blended learning. Finally, the percentage of students that scored >90% was not significantly different for both Years 2019 and 2020. The adaptive blended learning approach was effective in enhancing academic performance for high performing medical students. It also permitted the early identification of underachieving students, thereby serving as an early warning sign to permit timely intervention.

Keywords: Covid-19; adaptive blended learning; brick-and-mortar; face-to-face learning; integration; medical education; neuroanatomy education; neuroscience education; pedagogy.