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Effect of direct and indirect teaching styles on learning outcomes for first year medical students

Jeremy M. Drake and Jan F. Meyer
School of Anatomy and Human Biology, The University of Western Australia
This study was designed to assess the effectiveness of different methods of teaching Functional Anatomy (FA) to first year medicine and dentistry students. Learning outcomes for two areas of FA (eye and heart) were examined by administration of surprise short answer tests consisting of six structural, five embryological and two pathology questions.

The first topic (eye) was taught exclusively through a research assignment (indirect teaching). The second topic (heart) was taught directly in a lecture, laboratory and assigned reading. Students did not have opportunities to prepare for tests, so direct retention of knowledge was examined. There was a significant improvement in test scores for the heart topic across both structure and pathology questions following direct teaching. Test performance on the heart topic was significantly better than on the eye topic. Significant differences in performance were also apparent between sections of the test. Interestingly, students scored significantly higher on pathology questions for both "eye" and "heart" tests, despite the teaching focus on human structure.

A second year medicine and dentistry student group also completed the "eye" test following lectures on the subject (direct teaching). Comparison of student groups revealed significantly better performance by second year students on both structure and pathology sections. The degree of improvement in test scores for "heart" test in first year students indicates that the difference between student groups for "eye" test is due to teaching method and not a difference in general aptitude level of the groups.

Please cite as: Drake, J. M. and Meyer, J. F.(2003). Effect of direct and indirect teaching styles on learning outcomes for first year medical students. In Partners in Learning. Proceedings of the 12th Annual Teaching Learning Forum, 11-12 February 2003. Perth: Edith Cowan University. http://lsn.curtin.edu.au/tlf/tlf2003/abstracts/drake-abs.html

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Last revision: 13 Jan 2003. This URL: http://lsn.curtin.edu.au/tlf/tlf2003/abstracts/drake-abs.html