Objective: This comparative study of a modified problem based learning activity examined the knowledge retention immediately after instruction and at six weeks post-instruction in two groups of students who were presented patient information either through a teacher-led lecture or student-directed patient interaction.
Methods: Eighty-four students were randomly divided into two groups; active participation versus didactic. Students were provided information on a patient with neurological signs and symptoms. This was done either through a teacher-led verbal and written presentation of the case or a collaborative student directed thorough history taking and examination using a standardized patient.
Results: The majority in both groups reported that they would retain information if they were actively involved in the learning process (91% and 94%, respectively). Overall, the group that was able to interact with a patient during a clinical simulation scored statistically significantly higher on both Test 1 (CI, 0.2-1.9) and Test 2 (CI, 0.3-1.7).
Discussion: Problem based learning activities include varying aspects of student participation. Students report higher satisfaction with activities in which they actively participate. There is a paucity of research demonstrating that factual knowledge retention increases when students are actively involved.
Conclusion: Overall, this study suggested that there may be differences in knowledge retention when instruction is provided actively versus didactically.
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