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The efficacy of self-directed learning versus problem-based learning for teaching and learning ophthalmology: a comparative study

Authors Atta IS, Alghamdi AH

Received 16 April 2018

Accepted for publication 26 May 2018

Published 4 September 2018 Volume 2018:9 Pages 623—630

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/AMEP.S171328

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Cristina Weinberg

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Anwarul Azim Majumder


Ihab Shafek Atta,1,2 Ali Hendi Alghamdi3

1Pathology Department, Faculty of Medicine, Assuit Branch, Al-Azhar University, Cairo, Egypt; 2Pathology Department, Faculty of Medicine, Albaha University, Albaha, Saudi Arabia; 3Department of Surgery, Faculty of Medicine, Albaha University, Albaha, Saudi Arabia

Introduction: Self-directed learning (SDL) and problem-based learning (PBL) are fundamental tools to achieve lifelong learning in an integrated medical curriculum. However, the efficacy of SDL in some clinical courses is debated.
Aim: The aim of the study was to measure the effectiveness of SDL for an ophthalmology course in comparison with PBL.
Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted with fifth-year medical students enrolled in an ophthalmology course. SDL comprised four case-based scenarios guided by several questions. PBL comprised three sessions. An ear, nose, and throat (ENT) course was selected for comparison as a control. At the end of the course, 30 multiple-choice questions (MCQs) for both SDL and PBL were assessed and analyzed against their counterparts in the ENT course by an independent t-test.
Results: For the SDL component of the ophthalmology course, the number and percentages of students attaining high (n = 6/60, 10%) and moderate (n = 15/60, 28.3%) scores on an MCQs written exam were evaluated. For the PBL component, high scores were seen for 23.3% (n = 14/60), and moderate scores for 33.3% (n = 20/60) of the participants. For the SDL component of the ENT course, the number and percentages of students attaining high (n = 14/60, 23.3%) and moderate (n = 17/60, 28.3%) scores were recorded. For the PBL component, high (16/60, 26.6%) and moderate (17/60, 28%) scores were recorded. Significant p-values were obtained between the results for SDL and PBL in the ophthalmology course (p = 0.009), as well as between SDL results for both courses (p = 0.0308). Moreover, differences between the SDL results of ophthalmology and the PBL results of ENT (p = 0.0372) were significant.
Conclusion: SDL appears to be less valuable for promotion of self-readiness. Periodic discussions in small groups or by panel discussion are strongly recommended for students to enhance readiness with SDL.

Keywords: SDL, PBL, ophthalmology, ENT, lifelong learning, teaching tools

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