Teaching neurology to medical students with a simplified version of team-based learning

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Abstract

Objective:

To compare the effect of a simplified version of team-based learning (sTBL), an active learning/small group instructional strategy, with that of the traditionally used small group interactive seminars on the acquisition of knowledge and clinical reasoning (CR) skills.

Methods:

Third- and fourth-year medical students (n = 122) were randomly distributed into 2 groups. A crossover design was used in which 2 neurologic topics were taught by sTBL and 2 by small group interactive seminars. Knowledge was assessed with a multiple-choice question examination (MCQE), CR skills with a key feature problem examination (KFPE). Questionnaires were used for further methodologic evaluation.

Results:

No group differences were found in the MCQE results. sTBL instruction of the topic “acute altered mental status” was associated with a significantly better student performance in the KFPE (p = 0.008), with no differences in the other 3 topics covered. Although both teaching methods were highly rated by the students, a clear majority voted for sTBL as their preferred future teaching method.

Conclusions:

sTBL served as an equivalent alternative to small group interactive seminars for imparting knowledge and teaching CR skills, and was particularly advantageous for teaching CR in the setting of a complex neurologic topic. Furthermore, students reported a strong preference for the sTBL approach, making it a promising tool for effectively teaching neurology.

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