The existing clinical teaching in small group sessions is focused on the patient’s disease. The main dual limitation is that not only does the clinical skill testing become secondary but there is also a slackening of student involvement as only 1 student is evaluated during the entire session. A new methodology of small group teaching being experimented shifted the focus to testing students’ clinical skills with emphasise on team participation by daily evaluation of the entire team. The procedure involved was that the group underwent training sessions where the clinical skills were taught demonstrated and practiced on simulated patients (hear-see-do module). Later the entire small group, as a team, examined the patient and each student was evaluated for 1 of 5 specific tasks – history taking, general examination, systemic examination, discussion and case write-up. Out of 170 students, 69 students (study) and 101 students (control) were randomly chosen and trained according to the new and existing methods respectively. Senior faculty (who were blinded as to which method of teaching the student underwent) evaluated all the students. The marks obtained at 2 examinations were tabulated and compared for tests of significance using t-test. The difference in the marks obtained showed a statistically significant improvement in the study group indicating that the new module was an effective methodology of teaching. The teaching effectiveness was evaluated by student feedback regarding improvement in knowledge, clinical and communication skills and positive attitudes on a 5-point Likert scale. Psychometric analysis was very positively indicative of the success of the module.
In clinically-oriented subjects such as surgery, specific guidelines for conducting small group teachings are lacking. Different methods are being practiced and researched in different clinical subjects.
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