A Medical Science Educator Article Review From Dr. John Szarek

This month the IAMSE Publications Committee review is taken from the article titled “The Impact of Educational Resources and Perceived Preparedness on Medical Education Performance,” published in Medical Science Educator, (MSE (2021) 31:1319–1326), by Bauzon J, Alver A, Ravikumar V, Devera A, Mikhael T, Nauman R, and Simanton E. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40670-021-01306-x

In his book, The World is Open: How Web Technology is Revolutionizing Education (2009), Curtis Bonk wrote “Anyone can now learn anything from anyone at any time” (p 7). He further wrote, “Of course, there are constraints related to the relevance and accuracy of the information found online, but for a change, learners are taking control of their own learning paths” (p 35). This is evident in medical education not only related to web technology but also commercial resources. There is an ever-increasing number of such resources available to our learners but, for the most part, they are left to their own devices to suss out which resources are most helpful to them outside of the formal curriculum. In their Medical Science Educator article Justin Bauzon and colleagues describe a survey tool they developed to help educators gain insight into the use of such resources by learners and exam performance. 

The survey is designed to be administered after an examination but before scores are released. Three areas are assessed in the survey: how prepared learners felt about their exam performance (Preparedness score, PS, scale of 1 to 10); resources used including formal curricular resources (e.g., online recorded lectures) and resources outside of the syllabus (e.g., peer-to-peer tutoring, commercial resources such as PathomaTM); and a Resource-Specific Score (RSS; scale of 1 to 10) which assessed how well learners felt each resource helped prepare them for the exam. These were correlated to exam performance. With respect to specific resources and exam performance, the authors reported that only two, watching online recorded lectures and peer-to-peer tutoring sessions increased exam performance. The authors also found that there was a positive correlation between the Preparedness score and mean exam scores. When comparing use of any individual resource use to non-use, however, there were no significant differences in Preparedness scores or exam scores other than the two mentioned. The average number of resources used for each exam was 7 with a range from 2 to 13. Exam scores tended to be a little higher the fewer resources a learner used but there was no correlation between the number of resources used and Preparedness scores or exam scores. 

The bottom line is that learners’ use of extracurricular resources did not have a significant impact on their exam performance. Nonetheless, a majority of our learners use resources outside those formally prescribed in our syllabi often at significant expense. This survey (available as an online supplement) will help us help our learners by examining more closely those resources commonly used by our learners and providing guidance on how best to utilize them as supplements to the formal curricular resources.

John L. Szarek, BPharm, PhD, CHSE
Vice-Chair for Curriculum
Professor and Director of Clinical Pharmacology
Education Director for Simulation
Department of Medical Education
Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine
Member IAMSE Publications Committee