Lynn M. Manfred, MD. University of Massachusetts Medical School and the Departments of Pediatrics and Internal Medicine, Worcester, MA
Objectives: In an attempt to increase student learning in the conferences of the Pediatric Clerkship, we randomized clerkship groups to two different conference teaching methods, Case Method Teaching [CMT] and traditional lectures when all other aspects of the clerkship were held constant. We sought evidence of student learning in student work, testing, and faculty evaluations of students.
Methods: This randomized controlled trial of two different conference teaching methods, traditional lectures vs. case method teaching (CMT), compared student learning, student satisfaction, faculty satisfaction and faculty perception of student learning between the two methods. All 108 students enrolled in the six-week pediatrics clerkship at the University of Massachusetts Medical School from 4/8/2001 until 6/30/2002 gave informed consent and participated. IRB approved the study. We sought evidence of student learning in graded student papers, examinations, performance evaluations, pre and post clerkship self evaluation of clerkship competencies, and faculty assessments.
Results: Clinical evaluations of students, OSCEs and written work suggested case method teaching superior to traditional lectures in acquiring the clerkship competencies. Pre-post self-assessments and end of conference classroom assessments gave stronger evidence that students learned more problem solving and attitudinal content.
Conclusions: Students prefer CMT to traditional conferences in the clinical years. They appear to learn more content, problem solving and are better able to recognize and discuss difficult issues such as child abuse, ethical dilemmas, professional issues and cultural issues. They appear to spend more time on task, read more, are more active in conferences and out of conferences.