COMPUTERS IN MEDICAL EDUCATION 1: EVALUATION OF A PROBLEM-ORIENTATED LEARNING PACKAGE

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Abstract

Background:

A computer-based learning package has been developed, aimed at expanding students' knowledge base, as well as improving data-handling abilities and clinical problem-solving skills. The program was evaluated by monitoring its use by students, canvassing users' opinions and measuring its effectiveness as a learning tool compared to tutorials on the same material.

Methods:

Evaluation was undertaken using three methods: initially, by a questionnaire on computers as a learning tool and the applicability of the content; second, through monitoring by the computer of student use, decisions and performance; finally, through pre- and post-test assessment of fifth-year students who either used a computer package or attended a tutorial on equivalent material.

Results:

Most students provided positive comments on the learning material and expressed a willingness to see computer-aided learning (CAL) introduced into the curriculum. Over a 3-month period, 26 modules in the program were used on 1246 occasions. Objective measurement showed a significant gain in knowledge, data handling and problem-solving skills.

Conclusions:

Computer-aided learning is a valuable learning resource that deserves better attention in medical education. When used appropriately, the computer can be an effective learning resource, not only for the delivery of knowledge, but also to help students develop their problem-solving skills.

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