Case-Based Learning in Dermatology

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The instruction of dermatology can be challenging due to its large scope, heavy clinical nature, and limited curriculum space. Case-based learning (CBL) is an emerging education paradigm and has no current literature on its use in dermatology.


Assess CBL in undergraduate dermatology medical education.


Case-based learning was implemented in the preclerkship dermatology curriculum at the University of Toronto to 3 student cohorts (totaling 710 students and 93 tutors) between May 2016 and April 2017. We analyzed assignment performance, pre- and post-CBL knowledge test scores, and experience surveys on students and tutors. Surveys were evaluated using aggregate descriptive statistics for quantitative data and thematic data analysis for qualitative data. All assessments were anonymous and voluntary.


We received strong positive feedback on the CBL experience, with no score less than 3.8 on a 5-point scale (where 5 indicated strongly agree with a positively phrased question). Thematic data analysis revealed several key themes, including positive comments for a specialist tutor, the use of visual media, and the “mini-cases” style of CBL, while challenges included a lack of motivation. Group assignments scored high, ranging from 88.9% to 99.3%. Tracked pre- and post-CBL knowledge test scores showed a 32% (from 42% to 74%) increase in scores after the CBL experience.

Conclusion and Relevance:

CBL in dermatology medical education was well received by students and tutors, with high scores in content evaluation and knowledge assessment. Future studies should examine optimal delivery methods and its long-term effects on knowledge retention.

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