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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 34  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 118-119

Integrating case-based discussion into the teaching of biochemistry

1 Department of Biochemistry, Atal Bihari Vajpayee Government Medical College, Vidisha, Madhya Pradesh, India
2 Department of Pathology, LN Medical College, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India
3 Department of Ophthalmology, Dr. R. P. Centre for Ophthalmic Sciences, AIIMS, New Delhi, India

Date of Submission11-Jun-2019
Date of Decision14-Mar-2021
Date of Acceptance15-Jan-2022
Date of Web Publication26-Apr-2022

Correspondence Address:
Vaishali Jain
Department of Biochemistry, Atal Bihari Vajpayee Government Medical College, Sanchi Road, NH-86, Vidisha - 464 001, Madhya Pradesh
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/efh.EfH_145_19

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How to cite this article:
Jain V, Agrawal V, Das Y. Integrating case-based discussion into the teaching of biochemistry. Educ Health 2021;34:118-9

How to cite this URL:
Jain V, Agrawal V, Das Y. Integrating case-based discussion into the teaching of biochemistry. Educ Health [serial online] 2021 [cited 2022 Oct 7];34:118-9. Available from:

Dear Editor,

Trends in medical education have shifted away from didactic teaching and toward interactive lecturing, problem-based learning, case-based learning (CBL), and project-based learning.[1] Experiential learning allows students to develop both their knowledge and skills by solving real-world professional problems. CBL is one form of experiential learning, in which students collaborate in a small group environment to work through patient cases. The group focuses on creative problem solving with some advanced preparation.[2] By placing the knowledge in a clinical context, students are thinking as professionals in a clinical context. CBL is a teaching-learning method which promotes analytical and problem-solving skills in the learners. It is also an interactive, learner-centered approach that helps medical students appreciate clinical applications of theoretical knowledge in its use as a guided inquiry method.[3] Biochemistry curricula content is predominantly taught by means of didactic lectures at the undergraduate level. There are many must-know topics in the curriculum of biochemistry that has clinical importance. Knowledge gained on these topics through traditional methods is hardly retained at the start of clinical teaching in later years. In our study, 150 students in semester II attending biochemistry classes were divided into three groups-Group A was taught “liver function tests” using didactic lectures. Group B was taught “liver function tests” using didactic lectures and then it was further subdivided into small groups and taught through case-based discussions. Group C was not taught using didactic lectures but it was subdivided into small groups and taught through case-based discussions. Student's understanding of the topic was assessed using a paper- and pencil test which included a mix of multiple-choice questions and case studies. This assessment included questions based not only on factual knowledge but also on comprehension, reasoning, and critical analysis of the main topic. The mean total scores obtained by students in Group B were higher than those obtained in Groups A and C (P < 0.01). Furthermore, students in Group B obtained higher scores in solving case studies.

MBBS students are taught biochemistry related to diseases in semesters I and II, but the pathology of diseases is usually taught in subsequent years when students are exposed to clinics. Students have difficulty in applying their theoretical knowledge to solve case studies at this stage. Here, constructive and direct supervision helped students attending CBD sessions to integrate theoretical knowledge gained during lectures into practice by solving case studies.[4] Significant learning occurs during the lectures, but discussions are equally important for enhanced learning.[5] Traditional teaching along with CBD resulted in significantly better test scores of students and promoted a deeper understanding of the basic concepts of biochemistry to relate and link to patient cases in clinics.

Using the traditional methods of teaching biochemistry, students may not acquire the skills and attitudes to effectively link knowledge with medical problems. The use of traditional teaching along with CBD results in significantly better test scores and promotes a deeper understanding of the basic concepts of biochemistry related and linked to medical problems.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Barrows HS, Tamblyn RM. Problem-based learning: an approach to medical education. New York: Springer, 1980.  Back to cited text no. 1
Slavin SJ, Wilkes MS, Usatine R. Doctoring III: Innovations in education in the clinical years. Acad Med 1995;70:1091-5.  Back to cited text no. 2
Srinivasan M, Wilkes M, Stevenson F, Nguyen T, Slavin S. Comparing problem-based learning with case-based learning: Effects of a major curricular shift at two institutions. Acad Med 2007;82:74-82.  Back to cited text no. 3
Schuwirth LW, Verheggen MM, van der Vleuten CP, Boshuizen HP, Dinant GJ. Do short cases elicit different thinking processes than factual knowledge questions do? Med Educ 2001;35:348-56.  Back to cited text no. 4
Fiel NJ. The lecture: Increasing student learning. J Med Educ 1976;51:496-9.  Back to cited text no. 5


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