An interactive e-learning module on peripheral blood smear analysis is an effective option for teaching pathology trainees

Am J Clin Pathol. 2023 Aug 1;160(2):150-156. doi: 10.1093/ajcp/aqad014.


Objectives: This study compares the effectiveness of an interactive e-learning module with a traditional text-based method for teaching peripheral blood smear analysis.

Methods: Pathology trainees at Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education residency programs were asked to participate. Participants completed a multiple-choice test on peripheral blood smear findings. Trainees were randomized into completing an e-learning module or a PDF reading exercise with the same educational content. Respondents rated their experience and completed a postintervention test composed of the same questions.

Results: In total, 28 participants completed the study; 21 improved their score in the posttest (mean, 21.6 correct answers) compared with the pretest (19.8; P < .001). This improvement was seen in both the PDF (n = 19) and interactive (n = 9) groups, with no difference in performance between the 2 groups. Trainees with less clinical hematopathology experience showed a trend of having the largest performance improvement. Most participants completed the exercise within 1 hour, rated the exercise as easy to navigate, were engaged, and reported learning new information about peripheral blood smear analysis. All participants indicated that they would likely complete a similar exercise in the future.

Conclusions: This study suggests that e-learning is an effective tool for hematopathology education and equivalent to traditional narrative-based methods. This module could easily be incorporated into a curriculum.

Keywords: blood smear; e-learning; hematopathology; interactive; residency.

MeSH terms

  • Computer-Assisted Instruction* / methods
  • Curriculum
  • Education, Medical, Graduate / methods
  • Educational Measurement
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency*