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Arch Ophthalmol. 2009 Sep;127(9):1211-4. doi: 10.1001/archophthalmol.2009.110.

Effect of digital problem-based learning cases on student learning outcomes in ophthalmology courses.

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  • 1Department of Ophthalmology, The Fourth Affiliated Hospital of China Medical University, Heping District, Shenyang City 110005, China.



To assess the impact of digital problem-based learning (PBL) cases on student learning in ophthalmology courses.


Ninety students were randomly divided into 3 classes (30 students per class). The first class studied under a didactic model. The other 2 classes were divided into 6 groups (10 students per group) and received PBL teaching; 3 groups studied via cases presented in digital form and the others studied via paper-form cases. The results of theoretical and case analysis examinations were analyzed using the chi(2) test. Student performance on the interval practice was analyzed using the Kruskal-Wallis test. Questionnaires were used to evaluate student and facilitator perceptions.


Students in the digital groups exhibited better performance in the practice procedures according to tutorial evaluations compared with the other groups (P < .05). The 2 PBL classes had significantly higher mean results of theoretical and case analysis examinations (P < .001), but there was no significant difference between the 2 PBL classes. Ninety-three percent of students in the digital groups (vs 73% in the paper groups) noted that the cases greatly stimulated their interest.


Introducing PBL into ophthalmology could improve educational quality and effectiveness. Digital PBL cases stimulate interest and motivate students to further improve diagnosis and problem-handling skills.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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