• Vol. 35 No. 9, 619–623
  • 15 September 2006

The Impact of Experiential Learning on NUS Medical Students: Our Experience With Task Trainers and Human-patient Simulation



Introduction: Experiential learning is one of the key methods for effective teaching of medical students. The use of simulation is ideal to achieve this goal. Simulation training allows the learner to be actively involved, and provides realism, self-direction, feedback and practice. We present 2 pilot projects in which the efficacy of experiential learning with simulation is demonstrated.

Materials and Methods: In the first project, groups of 4 to 6 fourth-year medical students were exposed to common crisis scenarios. Each student took turns to individually handle the situation (in the hot seat), while the rest of the group watched “live” via video-link. A group debrief was done after the completion of all scenarios and learning points were emphasized. A test was conducted shortly after, and the student who managed the same scenario in the hot seat earlier was compared to the rest of the group with respect to crisis recognition, management and diagnosis. In the second project, 36 fourth-year medical students were assigned to learn endotracheal intubation through a directed or experiential method. Students were recalled after 3 months and tested on 4 major categories: preparation, technique, success and ventilation.

Results: Students in the hot seat tended to perform better (72% vs. 64%), and were more likely to be the highest scoring student within their group; although this did not reach statistical significance. For the intubation study, students in the experiential group had a higher success rate at 3 months (78% vs. 41%).

Conclusions: Experiential teaching methods with simulation result in better learning of crisis management and endotracheal intubation.

The realisation that students have different cognitive and learning styles has had major implications on medical curriculum design efforts. If the student’s learning style is mismatched with the teaching style or the teaching environment, the student may spend considerable effort to adapt, and this may negatively impact the student’s performance.

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