Different pedagogies for acquisition of knowledge and skill: a systematic review and network meta-analysis

Postgrad Med J. 2021 Apr 30;postgradmedj-2021-140076. doi: 10.1136/postgradmedj-2021-140076. Online ahead of print.


Background: This network meta-analysis aimed to assess the efficacy of different educational methods for healthcare professionals.

Methods: A systematic literature search was conducted to identify relevant randomised controlled trials. The standardised mean difference (SMD) with 95% CI was estimated using network meta-analysis for knowledge acquisition and skill performance, and ranked the effects of different educational methods using the surface under the cumulative ranking area (SCURA) technique.

Results: Fifty-five randomised controlled trials including of 4292 participants were identified. Compared with no intervention, the results demonstrated all education methods achieved significant improvements in knowledge acquisition (SMD 1.73-2.66). Only education methods involving high fidelity virtual patient simulation reported significantly better skill performance (SMD 1.25-1.81). High fidelity virtual patient simulation plus self-directed learning was the most effective educational method both in terms of knowledge acquisition (SMD 2.66, 95% CI 1.4 to 4.12, SCURA 0.78) and skill performance (SMD 1.81, 95% CI 0.42 to 3.2, SCURA 0.89).

Conclusions: Our study demonstrates all educational methods have positive effects on knowledge acquisition, but education methods involving high fidelity virtual patient simulation are better at improving skill performance than other methods.

Keywords: medical education & training; public health.