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Int J Med Educ. 2017 Sep 22;8:326-333. doi: 10.5116/ijme.59b9.5f40.

Is lecture dead? A preliminary study of medical students' evaluation of teaching methods in the preclinical curriculum.

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Department of Medical Education, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL, USA.
Department of Cell, Developmental and Integrative Biology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL, USA.



To investigate medical students' perceptions of lecture and non-lecture-based instructional methods and compare preferences for use and quantity of each during preclinical training.


We administered a survey to first- and second-year undergraduate medical students at the University of Alabama School of Medicine in Birmingham, Alabama, USA aimed to evaluate preferred instructional methods.  Using a cross-sectional study design, Likert scale ratings and student rankings were used to determine preferences among lecture, laboratory, team-based learning, simulation, small group case-based learning, large group case-based learning, patient presentation, and peer teaching. We calculated mean ratings for each instructional method and used chi-square tests to compare proportions of first- and second-year cohorts who ranked each in their top 5 preferred methods.


Among participating students, lecture (M=3.6, SD=1.0), team based learning (M=4.2, SD=1.0), simulation (M=4.0, SD=1.0), small group case-based learning (M=3.8, SD=1.0), laboratory (M=3.6, SD=1.0), and patient presentation (M=3.8, SD=0.9) received higher scores than other instructional methods. Overall, second-year students ranked lecture lower (χ2(1, N=120) =16.33, p<0.0001) and patient presentation higher (χ2(1, N=120) =3.75, p=0.05) than first-year students.


While clinically-oriented teaching methods were preferred by second-year medical students, lecture-based instruction was popular among first-year students. Results warrant further investigation to determine the ideal balance of didactic methods in undergraduate medical education, specifically curricula that employ patient-oriented instruction during the second preclinical year.


case-based learning; collaborative learning; instructional methods; laboratory; lecture; patient presentation; simulation; team-based learning; undergraduate medical education

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