Improved student learning in ophthalmology with computer-aided instruction

P Devitt, J R Smith, E Palmer
Eye 2001, 15: 635-9

PURPOSE: Recent changes in the medical school curriculum and in teaching styles have stimulated the development of novel learning resources. We investigated the impact of computer-aided learning in the field of ophthalmology at a large Australian undergraduate medical school.

METHODS: Clinical case studies describing common ophthalmic conditions were incorporated into a computing program which uses a problem-solving format. The program was made available to 85 medical students for a 2 week period. A control group of 20 medical students did not have access to this material. Acquisition of new knowledge was assessed as the improvement in score on a knowledge-based multiple-choice examination which students took both before and following the learning interval.

RESULTS: Students in the control group showed no improvement over the test period, whilst the students who had access to the computer significantly increased their knowledge base, both for material provided on the program (p = 0.0001) and in related areas (p = 0.0015).

CONCLUSIONS: Suitably constructed material on the computer is a useful aid in teaching ophthalmology to medical undergraduates. The material and the medium may also act as a stimulus for further learning.

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