Comparison of educational methods for medical students
Digital imaging is a useful tool for laboratory hematology education. Although digital presentations (eg. digital atlases) are increasingly common for medical education, interactive multimedia programs have not been well established.
We therefore wished to develop a digital educational program of laboratory hematology for medical students, which is also utilized for proficiency testing. In our trials, we recognized that the CellaVision Competency Software is close to an ideal educational and testing program with its image-based, feedback approach. Immediately after testing, participants are shown their results, including a cell by cell comparison with examiner, and an attainment level compared to the other participants.
Materials and Methods
In this study, we utilized 15 cases of peripheral blood smears stained with May–Grunwald-Giemsa, including 6 normal and 3 each of acute myeloid leukemia (AML), adult T cell lymphoma (ATL), and Myeloid dysplastic syndrome (MDS). Digital test cases with 50 cell images were created using a CellaVision DM96 analyzer and CellaVision Competency Software. A total of 78 medical students enrolled in a required 1-week laboratory hematology course and participated in this study.
To evaluate the efficacy of this digital educational program, students were randomly assigned to two groups. In the first group, the teaching of blood morphology was done with the use of CellaVision Competency Software (Group A). The second group used traditional methods combining photo material and microscopic slide examination (Group B).
The last day of the course, all the students participated in the proficiency tests prepared using CellaVision Competency Software, and their attainment level was evaluated. Students also completed a questionnaire rating their satisfaction with the digital educational program using an arbitrary scale from 1 (least favorable) to 10 (most favorable).
Results and discussion
The Group A students (trained using CellaVision Competency Software) demonstrated significantly higher attainment of detection of abnormal ATL cells compared to Group B (trained by traditional methods). No significant difference of attainment levels for the normal, AML, or MDS cases was observed between these two groups. Although the students in both groups were generally satisfied in their ability to recognize normal and abnormal blood cells, their self-evaluation of their level of achievement was slightly lower in Group A than Group B. This might be because the digital educational program with its image-based, feedback system allowed more critical self-evaluation than the traditional teaching program. Since laboratory hematology is a visual science, high quality imaging is essential for learning. In their responses to the questionnaire, the students valued the digital image quality, as well as the ease-of-use of CellaVision Competency Software. They also appreciated its game-like, active self-learning environment with immediate feedback of their relative attainment levels compared to the other participants. Some of them suggested the ability to access this program in a web based e-learning environment.
In an earlier study, we observed that an educational program utilizing CellaVision Competency Software created great proficiency of the inexperienced clinical laboratory technicians in their blood cells morphological examination accuracy. Our results indicate that CellaVision Competency Software, utilizing specially created reference test cases, is particularly valuable as a digital teaching program for laboratory hematology education for medical students and medical technologists.
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