Relatively little is known about the effectiveness of online learning (web-based-learning (WBL)) in medical education and how it compares to conventional methods, face-to-face teaching. The main objective of this pilot research project was to determine whether there is a difference in student performance between WBL and face-to-face deliveries in the Diploma in Tropical Medicine course. Student comments were also analyzed to better understand their learning experience.
Methods: Eighty-five students completed one or more modules. Final exam scores were collected. Linear regression and t-tests were used to examine if there are performance differences between WBL and face-to-face students and status as a medical student or non-medical student. Student written comments on course evaluation were analyzed.
For module 1, the t-test indicates there is no difference in performance between WBL and face-to-face deliveries. For module 2, the t-test suggests that WBL students did worse than face-to-face students. However, in aggregate (taking the average grades of students over module 1 and module 2), taking the WBL course did not appear to affect student performance. Status as medical student did slightly better in module 2 but did not appear to affect student performance in other modules.
Taking or not taking WBL course did not affect student performance in the Epidemiology, Public Health and Health Systems module (module 1) but it might have affected the Tropical Bacteriology module (module 2). However, in aggregate, taking the WBL course did not appear to affect student performance. Medical students appeared to do slightly better than other students in module 2. This analysis holds for this group of students; the sample size is very small and it is difficult to say if these findings will hold true for other students. Student comments indicate the importance of frequent feedback in a WBL environment.
F. Tiu, None