Objectives: To describe the formal teaching activities of pediatric residents and to assess how the act of formal teaching affects residents' acquisition and retention of knowledge.
Design and methods: Randomized controlled trial. Forty-three pediatric residents in a university-based program were surveyed about their teaching activities, given a pretest on a predetermined topic (oral rehydration), then randomly assigned to either teach (n = 18) or listen to (n = 25) a 30-minute lecture on that topic; 6 to 8 weeks later they completed a posttest. The difference between [retest and posttest scores was calculated for each resident as an index of knowledge acquisition.
Results: The mean number of resident teaching events per year was 3.5 for interns (n = 16), 2.9 for junior residents (n = 11), and 6.9 for senior residents (n = 16). Self-reported comfort with the teaching role, ability to hold a group's attention, and desire to teach were similar across year of training. Prior to randomization, teachers (experimental group) reported less interest in oral rehydration that did listeners (control group) (P < .03). However, knowledge acquisition was significantly greater for teachers than for listeners (posttest score minus pretest score [mean +/- SD], 6.1 +/- 4.2 vs 3.2 +/- 2.5; P < .01).
Implications: Among pediatric residents, formal teaching enhances knowledge acquisition relative to self-study and lecture attendance.