Simulation Technology: A Comparison of Experiential and Visual Learning for Undergraduate Medical Students

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Abstract

Background

The availability of simulator technology at the University of Toronto (Toronto, Ontario, Canada) provided the opportunity to compare the efficacy of video-assisted and simulator-assisted learning.

Methods

After ethics approval from the University of Toronto, all final-year medical students were invited to participate in the current randomized trial comparing video-based to simulator-based education using three scenarios. After an introduction to the simulator environment, a 5-min performance-based pretest was administered in the simulator operating room requiring management of a critical event. A posttest was administered after students had participated in either a faculty-facilitated video or simulator teaching session. Standardized 12-point checklist performance protocols were used for assessment purposes. As well, students answered focused questions related to the educational sessions on a final examination. Student opinions regarding the value of the teaching sessions were obtained.

Results

One hundred forty-four medical students participated in the study (scenario 1, n = 43; scenario 2, n = 48; scenario 3, n = 53). There was a significant improvement in posttest scores over pretest scores in all scenarios. There was no statistically significant difference in scores between simulator or video teaching methods. There were no differences in final examination marks when the two educational methods were compared. Student opinions indicated that the experiential simulator sessions were more enjoyable and valuable than the video teaching sessions.

Conclusions

Both simulator and video types of faculty-facilitated education offer a valuable learning experience. Future work is needed that addresses the long-term effects of experiential learning in the retention of knowledge and acquired skills.

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