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IAMSE - Publications Committee Journal Review

Wednesday, January 20, 2016   (0 Comments)
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Happy holidays to all! I offer the following review to encourage readership of our excellent journal – Medical Science Educator. I read with great interest an article in our latest issue outlining how students and faculty likely view the value of the lecture format quite differently.

Student and Faculty Perspectives on the Use of Lectures in the Medical School Curriculum. Med.Sci.Educ. 2015. 25:431-437

http://link.springer.com/journal/volumesAndIssues/40670

I was drawn to this article as we are undergoing curriculum revision at my institution and decisions about content delivery and format for delivery have been going on for months; the same discussions have likely occurred at many of your institutions. Even as most schools continue to incorporate more and more active learning in the forms of small groups into their curriculum, the lecture form remains a significant part of many schools’ curricula. Decisions about which topics are best served by one form of teaching over another are common.

This study used an online survey format and included both students and faculty. The survey asked the same open ended question followed by a multiple choice list of perceived benefits of lecture. Although the limitations are obvious in small sample size, less than 50% participation and one school’s experience only, the results are still interesting and raise questions for all of us. Predictably, both faculty and students perceive some of the same benefits of lecture including acquisition of facts and a framework for organizing information. Both groups do not see lecture as proving opportunity to convey compassion / altruism, integrity / honor, teamwork skills and leadership skills. Notably, faculty perceived lecture to help students develop critical thinking skills, whereas many fewer students perceived this as a benefit. Many more students reported lecture to be a source of social support, whereas faculty did not see this benefit at nearly the same level. Bottom line – students and faculty see many of the obvious benefits in lecture but differ substantially in other areas.

Certainly, some of the agreed upon areas that lecture typically does not address are better addressed in small group and other experiences in medical school. However, how your lecture is organized and delivered can also begin to address many of these areas like teamwork, leadership and critical thinking. The authors of this paper are explicit that they are not addressing the issue of lecture delivery. However, when one does address this, it would also be good to make the lecture format as interactive and engaging as possible. I would suggest that all – besides reading this paper – consider purchasing the latest IAMSE how-to manual - http://www.iamse.org/manuals/ - which presents multiple methods to incorporate active learning into large group settings.

Dani L. McBeth, PhD
Chair, IAMSE Publications committee

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