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Med Educ. 1999 Aug;33(8):579-84.

Structured packs for independent learning: a comparison of learning outcome and acceptability with conventional teaching.

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  • 1Department of General Practice and Primary Care, The Guy's, King's and St Thomas's School of Medicine, Cutcombe Road, London, UK.



The GMC recommends that students become independent learners, while tutor time is an increasingly precious resource. A set of structured learning materials requiring students to undertake and reflect on practical tasks in five learning areas was developed.


The study used a randomized control trial to evaluate the effectiveness of using these structured learning materials in place of conventional teaching for 228 third-year undergraduate students and 55 teachers, on both hospital and community based medical and general practice firms. Evaluation involved assessing student performance on an examination question and a writing task, together with a student and tutor satisfaction questionnaire.


King's College School of Medicine and Dentistry, London.


Third-year medical (first-year clinical) undergraduates.


No significant difference in learning outcome was found for students on community- and hospital-based medical and general practice firms between students who had used the structured materials and those who had had conventional teaching on the same topic. The packs were acceptable to tutors and students.


Such resources represent a mid-point between formal didactic teaching and self-directed learning. They may be particularly suitable for promoting independent learning for students on traditional medical courses. They offer an appropriate way to cover certain topics in the clinical curriculum and help to protect tutor time for topics which cannot be effectively taught in other ways.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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