Evaluation of a national and international distance education program in clinical epidemiology (691)

Med Educ. 1998 Jan;32(1):70-5. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2923.1998.00168.x.


Distance education (DE) has been used as a teaching mode for over 100 years for a variety of academic, vocational and recreational courses. This paper describes a postgraduate clinical epidemiology course conducted by DE for Australian and international health professionals, and compares the educational experiences of three groups of students (on-campus part-time, Australian DE and international DE). The groups were not expected to differ in academic achievement (marks) in eight subjects or in degree completion rates. The marks in each subject were not significantly different and typically were within five marks across all student groups. Approximately 40-50% of Australian DE students complete the graduate diploma coursework requirements in the minimum 2 years study. The completion rate increases to 70-80% as the period of candidature increase. The completion rates of Australian DE students were not significantly different from those of on-campus part-time students. Evaluation of the course by degree completion rates, comparison of academic achievement between off-campus and on-campus students, and qualitative feedback from students demonstrates that DE is as successful as on-campus teaching in providing training in clinical epidemiology at the postgraduate level. The flexibility of this mode of training as a means of providing public health training is discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • China
  • Computer-Assisted Instruction*
  • Education, Medical, Continuing / methods*
  • Epidemiology / education*
  • Ethiopia
  • Female
  • Humans
  • International Educational Exchange
  • Male
  • New South Wales
  • Program Evaluation*
  • Telecommunications*
  • Zimbabwe