Thursday, August 16, 2012

Audience Response Systems in Lecture- What is the Benefit?
Today (8/15/12) I gave a lecture to the new, 1st year class of medical students at the Virginia Commonwealth University. The topic was measures of disease frequency in the M1 Population Medicine course.

No doubt, the students were all attentive and eager to learn. The students are only in their 1st week of medical school so what else could I expect? Regardless, I employed an audience response system (ARS), to enhance student participation. Is there any evidence that this improves the educational experience?

By engaging students in class, one study demonstrated that ARS can increase student awareness of knowledge relevant to their peers. Another publication suggested that ARS improved student performance on case based discussions. Last, a prospective, randomized controlled trial that included 17 obstetrics and gynecology residents suggested that ARS had a positive impact on knowledge retention. Residents who received ARS interactive lectures demonstrated a 21% improvement between pretest and posttest scores; residents who received the standard lecture demonstrated a 2% improvement (P = .018).

Although not a huge body of literature, the data suggests that ARS can positively impact the educational experience. The optimal balance of ARS, traditional lecture, and small group discussion has not been defined. The impact of an ARS based curriculum on pre-clinical medical student Step 1 USMLE score is also unknown.

At the very least, an interactive lecture format should stave off boredom and sleeping in class.

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