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Nurse Educ Today. 2011 Nov;31(8):866-71. doi: 10.1016/j.nedt.2010.12.026. Epub 2011 Jan 20.

Effects of competitive computer-assisted learning versus conventional teaching methods on the acquisition and retention of knowledge in medical surgical nursing students.

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University of Murcia, Departamento de Informática y Sistemas, Facultad de Informática, Campus de Espinardo, 30071- Espinardo, Murcia, Spain.



This paper presents a novel approach of computer-assisted learning for nursing education in university undergraduate courses.


The most innovative aspect of the proposal is the design of nursing assignments as on-line competitions. The effects of competitive e-learning versus conventional teaching methods on the acquisition and retention of knowledge were compared in a course on medical-surgical nursing.


A total of 116 students of mixed gender, age, computer experience and educational background in a second-year course on medical-surgical nursing participated in the study. Data were collected from nursing students at four time points. The on-line activities were carried out using a web-based automatic evaluation system.


The study revealed that the competitive e-learning method produced significant cognitive gains for the experimental group students in the immediate follow-up test. Nevertheless, both teaching methods resulted in similar knowledge retention in the 10-week follow-up test.


Significant benefits were found following our approach. The work of the students could be evaluated along the course, the workload of instructors was reduced and students received immediate feedback by the on-line judge, which promoted both independent learning and reflective thinking. The approach is applicable to any other nursing educational institution.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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