Background Simulated physiology (SimPhys) is a novel way of teaching basic sciences to early-years medical students. A high-fidelity SimManTM is used to simulate a clinical scenario and the underlying physiology is then discussed in real time as the scenario proceeds. This study evaluates the effect of SimPhys on learning.
There is literature to support the use of simulation for pre-clinical students1 however these programmes are often focussed on clinical reasoning rather than basic sciences.
It was hoped that SimPhys might improve understanding and affect the approach students took to learning. Marton and Saljo2 described ‘surface’ and ‘deep’ approaches to learning, and Ramsden3 suggests that most students learn superficially and forget information rapidly. There is, however, a wealth of evidence that deep learning approaches are associated with better learning outcomes, and that they can be encouraged in a variety of ways4
Methodology A mixed methods approach was used to understand the opinions of medical students at a large UK medical school. Students from three settings (a first year student selected module (n = 11), a first year lecture (n = 147) and fourth year student sessions (n = 87) participated in the research. Predominantly qualitative data was collected from questionnaires and focus groups, and this was scrutinised by iterative thematic analysis.
Results The emergent themes were about learning, the session itself and the place of SimPhys within the course. Students felt that SimPhys enhanced learning in several ways including providing context, making material more interesting, consolidating knowledge and increasing motivation. The majority of students believed SimPhys to be better suited for revision, consolidation and linking topics, rather than for learning new information.
Conclusions These findings suggest that SimPhys is popular with students and may encourage a deeper approach to learning. SimPhys also allows experiential learning for early-years students without affecting patient safety.
Gordon JA, Hayden EM, Ahmed RA, Pawlowski JB, Khoury KN, Oriol NE. Early bedside care during preclinical medical education: can technology-enhanced patient simulation advance the Flexnerian ideal? . Acad Med 2010;85(2):370–377
Marton F, Saljo R, 1997, "Approaches to Learning," In The Experience of Learning, 2nd ed. F. Marton, D. Hounsell, & N. Entwistle, eds., Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press, pp. 39-58
Ramsden P. 2003. Learning to Teach in Higher Education, 2nd ed. Oxford, RoutledgeFalmer
Entwistle N, Ramsden P. 1983. Understanding Student Learning London, Croom Helm
- Category: Course or curriculum evaluation/innovation/integration
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