Introduction. Traditional medical educational models are shifting to incorporate learning technologies and online educational activities. Combining online and blended learning with the more traditional face-to-face clinical instruction appears to provide opportunity to engage leaners at remote clinical training sites. Objective. The purpose of this research study is to describe and evaluate the effectiveness of the blended-learning format for 3rd year medical students who participated in the pediatric blended learning supplement by investigating post-exercise survey responses, end-of-rotation examination (COMAT) scores and final course grades. Methods. Of the 264 third year students who completed the four-week clerkship in the 2014/15 academic year, 78 (29.5%) participated in the blended learning supplement and 186 (70.5%) participated in the traditional face-to-face course. Students in the study group were provided opportunity to complete a post-exercise survey regarding their experience with the blended learning format. The survey instrument included items specifically related to the online components of the course: 38 Likert-type items arranged in 10 sections with opportunity to provide open-ended comments for each section, as well as a 15-item adjective checklist. In addition, end-of-rotation examination (COMAT) scores and final course grades were compared between groups. Results. Overall students valued the blended learning experience. Of the 78 students in the study group, 53 completed the post-exercise survey (67.9% response rate). Of respondents, 88% agreed or strongly agreed with the statement “This was a practical learning experience,” and 85% agreed or strongly agreed with “The integration of eLearning and face-to-face learning helped me learn pediatrics.” Of respondents, 50% agreed or strongly agreed with the statement “I prefer this hybrid learning format to traditional face-to-face clinical rotations,” and 73% reported “The amount of work required for this course was appropriate.” Overall, 85% reported “I was satisfied with the overall learning experience.” A large number of comments (7/19 regarding “course format,” 8/19 regarding “overall experience,” and 3/14 regarding “open comments”) addressed desire to increase the amount of clinical exposure and face-to-face time with patients. Using a two-tailed t-test for analysis, no statistical differences were seen between control (traditional) and sample (blended learning) groups with regard to COMAT scores (p=0.321). Using a test for independence (using a chi squared distribution), final grades between groups were significantly different (p=0.015). Compared to the control group, more students in the blended learning group received a final grade of Honors. Conclusion. Results of this study support the use of blended learning in a clinical training environment. Students valued the blended learning approach, and while their end-of-rotation examination scores were not improved, they may have benefited from the blended learning supplement by receiving higher course grades. As more medical educators utilize blended learning, it is important to investigate the best balance between learning with technology and learning in a face-to-face setting. Online activities may enhance but should never fully replace face-to-face learning with real patients.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/erik_langenau/31/