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Year : 2001  |  Volume : 14  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 21-32

Evaluation of Electronic Discussion Groups as a Teaching/Learning Strategy in an Evidence-based Medicine Course: A Pilot Study

Department of Pediatrics, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Denver, Colorado, USA

Correspondence Address:
Carol Kamin
1056 E. 19th Avenue, B-158, Denver, CO 80218
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

Background: As course directors, we wished to incorporate small group learning into our Evidence-based Medicine course for students to get feedback on the development of a well constructed, researchable clinical question. Scheduling of these groups was problematic. We sought to evaluate computer-mediated communication as an alternative to face-to-face small groups. Methods: Students were randomly assigned to either face-to-face small groups or asynchronous, electronic, small groups. Final examination scores were analyzed with an analysis of variance to determine if there were differences in student performance based on group type. Student survey items were analyzed using Fisher's Exact test to determine if there were differences in student attitudes based on group type. Results: There were no significant differences found in overall student performance. Significant differences in student attitudes were found to exist with respect to: (1) participation in discussions, with face-to-face groups reporting greater participation; (2) putting more thought into comments, with electronic groups reporting more thought put into comments; and (3) difficulty relating to other students in the class, with electronic groups reporting more difficulty. Discussion: We found electronic discussion groups (computer-mediated communication) to be a viable teaching/learning strategy with no adverse effects on student performance or attitudes.

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