A medical education requires a good mind, lot of money, and an extraordinary ability to forego sleep. That latter requirement presents no small amount of irony, given that sleep is critical to brain function and information retention.
Medical education journals and academic medicine researchers, though, are reporting that student response systems (SRS) are demonstrably useful in helping harried medical students ingest and retain critical information. They’re also helping students learn to make better diagnoses by providing diagnostic opportunities in a lower-stress settings.
Medical journals have been talking about the benefits of SRS (and, more generally, audience response systems [ARS]) for years. Back in 2004, Family Medicine included a study entitled, “Audience response system: effect on learning in family medicine residents.” It noted that “The difference in scores following ARS or interactive lectures versus non-interactive lectures was significant (P <.001). Mean quiz scores declined over 1 month in all three of the lecture groups but remained highest in the ARS group.” Many studies since have demonstrated similar positive outcomes.
More recently, MedEdPublish published a study on the value of SRS technologies when used in medical education conference settings. In the paper, “Effect of Audience Response System on Morbidity and Mortality Conference Engagement,” researchers from the University of Colorado School of Medicine wrote of their interest in evaluating “the effects of an audience response system on engagement in emergency medicine morbidity and mortality conference.” They noted that discussions at the M&M conference are often dominated by exchanges between more senior faculty members and panelists and that younger faculty members and medical students themselves are often disengaged and focusing on their laptops and phones. That changed with the introduction of an ARS: “the integration of an audience response system into our M&M conference resulted in increased engagement and improved quality of speaker feedback,” they wrote.
Meanwhile, the European Respiratory Journal recently published a paper entitled, “Audience response systems may help build confidence and competence in diagnosing and managing asthma.” Researchers from Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry at Queen Mary University, London, were looking at an issue where students in a clinical setting appeared to feel less confident about using the diagnostic skills they had learned in the classroom. “Following the ARS teaching session, 70 and 97% of students strongly agreed/agreed that they felt more confident in analyzing spirometry data and developed a better understanding of clinical-decision making in asthma management, respectively,” they wrote.