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A controlled study of team-based learning for undergraduate clinical neurology education

Author(s): Tan Nigel | Kandiah Nagaendran | Chan Yiong | Umapathi Thirugnanam | Lee Sze | Tan Kevin

Journal: BMC Medical Education
ISSN 1472-6920

Volume: 11;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 91;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Abstract Background Team-based learning (TBL), a new active learning method, has not been reported for neurology education. We aimed to determine if TBL was more effective than passive learning (PL) in improving knowledge outcomes in two key neurology topics - neurological localization and neurological emergencies. Methods We conducted a modified crossover study during a nine-week internal medicine posting involving 49 third-year medical undergraduates, using TBL as the active intervention, compared against self-reading as a PL control, for teaching the two topics. Primary outcome was the mean percentage change in test scores immediately after (post-test 1) and 48 hours after TBL (post-test 2), compared to a baseline pre-test. Student engagement was the secondary outcome. Results Mean percentage change in scores was greater in the TBL versus the PL group in post-test 1 (8.8% vs 4.3%, p = 0.023) and post-test 2 (11.4% vs 3.4%, p = 0.001). After adjustment for gender and second year examination grades, mean percentage change in scores remained greater in the TBL versus the PL group for post-test 1 (10.3% vs 5.8%, mean difference 4.5%,95% CI 0.7 - 8.3%, p = 0.021) and post-test 2 (13.0% vs 4.9%, mean difference 8.1%,95% CI 3.7 - 12.5%, p = 0.001), indicating further score improvement 48 hours post-TBL. Academically weaker students, identified by poorer examination grades, showed a greater increase in scores with TBL versus strong students (p < 0.02). Measures of engagement were high in the TBL group, suggesting that continued improvements in scores 48 hours post-TBL may result from self-directed learning. Conclusions Compared to PL, TBL showed greater improvement in knowledge scores, with continued improvement up to 48 hours later. This effect is larger in academically weaker students. TBL is an effective method for improving knowledge in neurological localization and neurological emergencies in undergraduates.
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