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Electronic learning can facilitate student performance in undergraduate surgical education: a prospective observational study

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Author(s): Healy David | Fleming Fergal | Gilhooley David | Felle Patrick | Wood Alfred | Gorey Thomas | McDermott Enda | Fitzpatrick John | O'Higgins Niall | Hill Arnold

Journal: BMC Medical Education
ISSN 1472-6920

Volume: 5;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 23;
Date: 2005;
Original page

ABSTRACT
Abstract Background Our institution recently introduced a novel internet accessible computer aided learning (iCAL) programme to complement existing surgical undergraduate teaching methods. On graduation of the first full cycle of undergraduate students to whom this resource was available we assessed the utility of this new teaching facility. Method The computer programme prospectively records usage of the system on an individual user basis. We evaluated the utilisation of the web-based programme and its impact on class ranking changes from an entry-test evaluation to an exit examination in surgery. Results 74.4% of students were able to access iCAL from off-campus internet access. The majority of iCAL usage (64.6%) took place during working hours (08:00–18:00) with little usage on the weekend (21.1%). Working hours usage was positively associated with improvement in class rank (P = 0.025, n = 148) but out-of hours usage was not (P = 0.306). Usage during weekdays was associated with improved rank (P = 0.04), whereas weekend usage was not (P = 0.504). There were no significant differences in usage between genders (P = 0.3). Usage of the iCAL system was positively correlated with improvement in class rank from the entry to the exit examination (P = 0.046). Students with lower ranks on entry examination, were found to use the computer system more frequently (P = 0.01). Conclusion Electronic learning complements traditional teaching methods in undergraduate surgical teaching. Its is more frequently used by students achieving lower class ranking with traditional teaching methods, and this usage is associated with improvements in class ranking.
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