Objective: To evaluate a computer-assisted instruction unit covering the basic concepts of streptococcal pharyngitis for effectiveness as a learning tool.
Design: Randomized control trial.
Setting: A medical school associated with a tertiary care hospital.
Participants: Third-year medical students on a pediatric clerkship from December 1, 1992, to October 31, 1993.
Intervention: Students were randomized into a study or a control group and given a pretest on streptococcal pharyngitis. The study group then completed the computer-assisted instruction unit. No attempt was made to distinguish among the clinical experiences of the two groups during the next 4 weeks, after which a second test on streptococcal pharyngitis was given to both groups.
Main outcome measures: Outcome was measured by scores (percentage correct) from tests given at day 1 and week 4 of the clerkship.
Results: The posttest scores of the study group increased by an average of 12.1 above the pretest scores, but the scores of the control group were only 3.4 points higher. The difference between these increases is statistically significant (P < .01, Student's t test).
Conclusion: Short, well-designed computer-assisted instruction units can be effective tools in medical education.