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Med Teach. 2004 Feb;26(1):57-62.

Demonstration of the effectiveness and acceptability of self-study module use in residency education.

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  • 1Department of Family Practice and Community Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis 55455, USA.


Educators face increasing challenges to promote lifelong learning skills, to include new content areas in an already full curriculum and to maximize limited resources for curriculum implementation. Self-study modules (hereafter modules) offer potential solutions. Three modules on preventive medicine topics were evaluated in Family Medicine residencies. A retrospective pre-/post-test of a resident's ability to meet the module's objectives was used for evaluation. Additionally, residents rated the appropriateness and acceptability of the modules, their preference for 13 methods of learning, and completed a multiple-choice knowledge test. This study demonstrates the effectiveness of modules at multiple levels of evaluation in accordance with a modified version of Kirkpatrick's hierarchy of levels of evaluation. Residents found the modules to be acceptable and useful. Significant gains were seen in residents' abilities to meet objectives. The multiple-choice knowledge test was used to demonstrate mastery of the module materials at an appropriate performance level for future practitioners. Module use was in the top five choices of preferred learning methods. No correlation was seen between residents' preference for learning using modules and educational outcomes. Modules are an effective and acceptable learning method for residents. Even those who prefer other learning methods show improved educational outcomes.

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