Medical Science Educator Volume 19: No. 4

Message from Editor-in-Chief

Uldis N. Streips, Ph.D.

Welcome to issue 19-4. We have variety of articles to appeal to your curiosity and which may add to you armament for curricular innovation. This issue again demonstrates that a variety of publications, from monographs to short communications, are possible with our journal. You are welcome to examine this and other issues to choose what type of presentation you would like for YOUR publication in JIAMSE. We are waiting for your submission.

Good reading to all of you,

Uldis N. Streips, Ph.D.
Editor-in-chief, JIAMSE

The Medical Educatorā€™s Resource Guide

John R. Cotter, Ph.D.

The one thing students crave in a course in Histology is the opportunity to self-test. In so doing, the students anticipate being able to evaluate their preparation for an examination and getting a glimpse of what a histology examination might be like. The craving is understandable because many students, even those in professional school, may not have had a comparable course as undergraduates and do not know what to expect especially with respect to the laboratory-based questions that are typically used in a histology examination. There may even be the hope that the questions will be similar or identical to the ones that will be used by their instructors to assess achievement in the course especially if their instructors provide old examinations or practice questions.

In this issue of the Medical Educatorā€™s Resource Guide, we review four websites that offer some degree of self-testing. One of the sites ā€“ – is a depository for examinations from many disciplines. The other websites give the user the opportunity to self-test in histology and are particularly strong as self-testing websites because the scope of the testing should give the user an indication of how well she or he understands basic concepts in histology.

If you are aware of a website that has the potential for being used by educators and students of the medical sciences, please consider contributing to the Guide. Instructions for submitting a review may be found at ( Send all submissions to (

On Pens and Presents: a Teaching Experiment to Assess the Influence of Pharmaceutical Industry Promotional Activities on Medical Students

Friedo W. Dekker,Ph.D., Anton J.M. de Craen, Ph.D.


During a lecture, randomly some second year medical students received small gifts, while others received nothing. Students who received a pen were four times more likely to believe non-authentic slides to be true than those who received nothing. We conclude that small promotional incentives are not harmless.

Digital Games as Educational Tools for Medical, Dental, and Physical Therapy Students

Jenna-Lynn Senger, Rani Kanthan, MBBS, M.S., FRCS, FRCPC, FCAP, M.Ed.


Computer-savvy net-generation students think and learn in different ways. Three educational games of varied complexity were designed for medical, dental and physical therapy students. Student feedback and examination performance outcomes were positive. Specially-constructed digital games offer an enhanced, effective, non-threatening, fun, educational learning environment, with increased student engagement and satisfaction.

Student Clinical Pathologic Correlation Presentations

Edward C. Klatt


Medical curricula have traditionally focused on content delivery with students as onlookers, primarily with a didactic lecture format. Even group teaching methods require faculty development of the structure, objectives, and much of the content delivered in the group setting, without a formal and sustained student presentation format. There is minimal reliance upon student-generated curriculum delivery. Both methods and contact hours to support student acquisition of competencies in medical education that drive research, data analysis, composition and presentation skills are needed in a curriculum, particularly within basic science disciplines. This report describes a method that supports multiple skills-based competencies as well as delivery of curricular knowledge-based content with the use of student presentations in the form of clinical-pathologic correlation (CPC) exercises by students to peers. Deployment of these CPCs with a rising class size occurred over a period of 6 years in a medical school pathology course. Course ratings remained high during that time, and student success in the course was supported with these CPCs.

Association Between Student Absenteeism at a Medical College and Their Academic Grades

Abdulaziz A. BinSaeed, Metib S. al-Otaibi, Hassan G. al-Ziyadi, AbdulMohsin A.Babsail & Shaffi Ahamed Shaik


It is a universal phenomenon that students often choose not to attend college classes. There are a number of reasons for this, but the effect of absenteeism is uniform, in that it can directly affect the studentsā€™ academic grades. The objectives of this study are: (i) to estimate the prevalence of student absenteeism, (ii) to observe the association between absenteeism and academic performance and (iii) to review student activities during the absenteeism.

A cross-sectional questionnaire study was carried out among 300, third year medical students attending the King Saud University. The questionnaire consisted of items related to the pattern of absenteeism (frequency, timings and reasons for being absent). The studentā€™s G.P.A was considered to be an essential marker of student performance. Only the questionnaires with complete information were considered for analysis. Data entry and analysis were carried out using the EPI Info 2003 Program and SPSS/PC+ statistical software. Out of 300 students, 172 responded with complete information. The response rate was 57%. The mean GPA for male students was 3.74 and for female students was 3.94. Students without a history of absenteeism had a higher mean GPA (4.05) in comparison with students with a history of absenteeism (3.75). The usual time of absence was during the morning and in the pre-examination period. The primary cause of student absenteeism (61.83%) was over-sleeping. The other major causes were studying (28.01%) or socializing with friends (10.14%). From the results of this Study it can be concluded that class absenteeism by medical students can significantly affect academic performance. Appropriate measures are therefore required to reduce student absenteeism.

Effectiveness of the Hybrid Model of Case-Based Teaching in Medical Pharmacology

S.K. Rajasekaran


A need for an alternative to the routine didactic format of lectures has always been appreciated by medical school faculties. This alternative is always expected to produce better learning outcomes and also suit that particular institution in terms of composition of students and the infrastructure available. The current study was designed to investigate the effectiveness of the hybrid model of case-based teaching by comparing it with the traditional didactic form of lecture delivery. The effectiveness was measured by a multiple choice question (MCQ) test, which served to assess the student learning outcome. The use of a hybrid model of case-based teaching methodology showed enhanced student academic performance compared to the traditional didactic lecture format. This performance with the hybrid model appeared to be independent of subject matter, student group composition, order and type of topics presented. Students appreciated the significance of clinical application of basic science concepts. This hybrid model does not require any additional man power or infrastructure and can be practiced in a large lecture hall setting. Based upon the subjective responses, students indicated that such a format allowed the students to appreciate the integration of information between theory and practice. We conclude that a hybrid educational format greatly improves the learning outcome in pharmacology, a typical basic science course. Future studies will be conducted to investigate if this trend is consistent with all basic science subjects.

Computer-Based Animations as Student Aids in Learning Bladder Anatomy and Physiology

Renuka Tunguntla1,2, Anita Bagri1,2, Bernard A. Roos1,2,3, Joseph G. Ouslander2,4 & Jorge G. Ruiz1,2,3


Although animations may intuitively appear more effective than static graphics, evidence for the superiority of computer-based animations is contradictory. This study aimed to investigate whether animations are superior to static graphics as aids to medical students in learning the anatomy and physiology of bladder filling and emptying. We randomized 29 senior medical students into 3 groups: system-paced animations, static graphics, and control. Subjects in the animation and static graphics groups completed a cognitive burden scale and a satisfaction survey immediately after the intervention. All 3 groups completed retention and transfer tests after completion. The difference among the 3 groups was significant for both retention and transfer test scores (F = 10.862, P <.0001 and F = 7.903, P = .002, respectively). Post hoc analysis using Tukey’s HSD revealed no significant difference between the animation and static groups for either retention or transfer. However, both the animation and static intervention groups scored significantly higher than the control group for both retention and transfer (p = .001 and p = 0.003 for animation and p = 0.001 and p = 0.009 for static, respectively). The cognitive load was higher in the animations group but not significantly. Animations did not appear to be superior to static graphics as aids in learning the anatomy and physiology of bladder filling and emptying. Nevertheless, both intervention groups scored better than the control group.

Medical Student Study Habits: Practice Questions Help Exam Scores

Sharon L. Wenger, Gerald R. Hobbs, H. James Williams, Michael A. Hays & Barbara S. Ducatman


Second year medical students were surveyed to determine what resources best helped them study for pathology exams. The list included attending lecture, listening and viewing recorded lectures posted to the internet, reading textbook or high yield review books and reviewing posted practice quiz or published practice clinical vignette questions. Students were asked to rank these items relative to time spent utilizing these resources for studying. Fifty one percent of students in the class responded. Students who indicated they spent more time using a practice exam question book did significantly better (p=0.007) on exams than those who did not use this resource. Students who indicated they relied more on audio-recorded lectures than actual attendance of lectures did not do as well on exams (p=0.056. Our results indicate that utilization of clinical vignette exam questions helped students the most for learning and understanding material.

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