Council on Medical Student Education in Pediatrics


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COMSEP 2012 Indianapolis Meeting

Poster Presentation:

The Effect of Active Learning on Knowledge Retention Among Preclinical Medical Students: A New Method for Teaching Pediatric Nutrition

Francis J Real, B.S. - Vanderbilt University School of Medicine; Amy E Fleming, MD - Vanderbilt University School of Medicine; Heather L Burrows, MD, PhD - University of Michigan; Kelly F Thomsen, MD - Vanderbilt University School of Medicine

BACKGROUND: As the body of knowledge in medical education continually increases in volume and complexity, the development of teaching strategies that promote an efficient transfer of information with greatest retention capacity is of critical importance. We created a curriculum with the goal of effectively conveying basic concepts of pediatric nutrition in a 1 hour session through use of an active-learning strategy.

RESEARCH METHODS: As part of the preclinical physical diagnosis course, second year students experienced a new pediatric nutrition curriculum that emphasized active participation. The curriculum consisted of small-group learning scenarios covering the basics of infant nutrition and healthy growth. Students actively engaged in learning by mixing formula, examining different stages of baby food, drawing growth curves, and discussing cases. Retention and satisfaction was measured by a 9-question pre-test and post-test. To assess long-term retention, students will take the same 9-question survey 4 months following the curriculum just prior to the start of their clinical rotations. Current third year students who did not participate in this curriculum served as a control group.

RESULTS: The second year students will undergo the pediatric nutrition-learning module in January-February 2012. To date, one session has been completed. For second year students (n=18), pre-test average score was 0.44 and post-test average score was 0.93. For control students (n=8), average score was 0.67. Ninety-four percent (n=17) of second year students either agreed or strongly agreed that they enjoyed all components of the curriculum. Ninety-four percent (n=17) of second year students indicated that they felt comfortable with the topic of healthy growth following the curriculum. One hundred percent (n=8) of control students indicated they felt uncomfortable with the topic of healthy growth in pediatrics. Anticipated sample size by date of COMSEP meeting is 80-100 students.

DISCUSSION: Early data supports significant positive effects of active learning in knowledge retention, satisfaction, and comfort with the topic of pediatric nutrition.