Back to Journals » Advances in Medical Education and Practice » Volume 9

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


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Md Anwarul 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

Creative Commons License This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited. The full terms of this license are available at and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution - Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License. By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed. For permission for commercial use of this work, please see paragraphs 4.2 and 5 of our Terms.

Download Article [PDF]  View Full Text [HTML][Machine readable]