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Med Educ. 2005 Aug;39(8):797-806.

Teaching paediatric residents about learning disorders: use of standardised case discussion versus multimedia computer tutorial.

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Department of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.



We developed a standardised case-based educational exercise on the topic of childhood learning disorders, and a multimedia computerised adaptation of this exercise, as part of a national curriculum project based on the Bright Futures guidelines.


To explore resident perceptions of the facilitated case discussion (FCD) and the computerised tutorial (CT).


Quasi-randomised comparison of two educational interventions.


Preclinic teaching conferences at a large urban children's hospital.


A total of 46 paediatric residents years 1-3 assigned to either FCD (n = 21) or CT (n = 25).


FCD residents met in groups of 8-12 with a trained facilitator for a structured case discussion, while CT residents worked in groups of 2-3 at a computer station linked to an interactive website.


Participant responses during semistructured focus group interviews.


Focus group transcripts, field notes and computer logs were analysed simultaneously using qualitative grounded theory methodology.


Residents experienced CT as fun, offering flexibility, greater auditory and visual appeal and more opportunities for active learning. FCD allowed greater contact with expert faculty and made the material more relevant to clinical practice. FCD participants emphasised the clinical skills gleaned and stated that the learning experience would change their future patient management. Both groups reported that case discussion was more interactive than computer learning. Median time spent on learning was slightly shorter for the CT group. All groups of learners arrived at the correct final diagnosis.


FCD and CT stimulate different types of learning among paediatric residents. Future studies are needed to determine how to integrate these two techniques to meet the learning needs of residents in diverse settings.

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