"SURGENT" — student e-learning for reality: the application of interactive visual images to problem-based learning in undergraduate surgery

Mark Corrigan, Michelle Reardon, Connor Shields, Henry Redmond
Journal of Surgical Education 2008, 65 (2): 120-5
Information technology has the potential to transform surgical education. Combining symbolic, iconic, and enactive teaching modalities to construct an authentic conceptual model potentially can transform a primarily didactic learning experience into an interactive Web-enhanced one. This study sought to assess the introduction of a Web-based module to complement traditional surgical undergraduate curricula. Adopting the clinical case as its fundamental educational approach, an online resource simulating surgical clinical decision making ("SURGENT," was developed, which consists of the interpretation of clinical photographs, laboratory data, and X-rays as well as the formulation of a management plan. Evaluation was in both a qualitative and a quantitative fashion. An anonymous postcourse survey (73% response) of 117 final medical students was used to by researchers to evaluate access, process, and outcome criteria. SURGENT was used by 98% of students, with 69% spending more than 30 minutes per session on the program. First-class honors in the final surgical clinical examination improved from 11% to 20% (p = 0.01) as compared with the previous control year. A Web-enhanced interactive surgical module in an undergraduate course can convey successfully information and understanding beyond the textbook. It is intended that SURGENT will supplement textbooks and ward experience, allowing students to develop their clinical decision-making skills.

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