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Differences in procedural knowledge after a “ spaced ” and a “ massed ” version of an intensive course in emergency medicine, investigating a very short spacing interval

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ABSTRACT

Background: Distributing a fixed amount of teaching hours over a longer time period (spaced approach) may result in better learning than delivering the same amount of teaching within a shorter time (massed approach). While a spaced approach may provide more opportunities to elaborate the learning content, a massed approach allows for more economical utilisation of teaching facilities and to optimise time resources of faculty. Favourable effects of spacing have been demonstrated for postgraduate surgery training and for spacing intervals of weeks to months. It is however unknown, whether a spacing effect can also be observed for shorter intervals and in undergraduate medical education. Therefore, we aimed to evaluate the effect of a short spacing intervention within an undergraduate intensive course in emergency medicine (EM) on students’ procedural knowledge.

Methods: An EM intensive course of 26 teaching hours was delivered over either 4.5 days, or 3.0 days. After the course students’ procedural knowledge was assessed by a specifically developed video-case based key-feature test (KF-test).

Results: Data sets of 156 students (81.7 %, 191 students eligible) were analysed, 54 from the spaced, and 102 from the massed version. In the KF-test students from the spaced version reached a mean of 14.8 (SD 2.0) out of 22 points, compared to 13.7 (SD 2.0) in the massed version (p = .002). Effect size was moderate (Cohen’s d: 0.558).

Conclusion: A significant spacing effect was observable even for a short spacing interval in undergraduate medical education. This effect was only moderate and may be weighed against planning needs of faculty and teaching resources.

Electronic supplementary material: The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12909-016-0770-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

No MeSH data available.


Flow chart: Included and excluded students
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Fig3: Flow chart: Included and excluded students

Mentions: The course was held at three different sites of the campus, so we had to use a mobile set of 20 notebooks. This made it impossible to assess all students who were enrolled in the course. For testing we selected those time slots at which the largest number of students was expected to participate in the voluntary KF-test. Two sessions at the beginning of the term were used to test the technical environment. We defined all students as eligible for the KF-test who were scheduled for regular course assessment at time slots, at which we had the technical environment to perform KF-testing. Distribution of cohorts followed the routine process at the office of students affairs, without formal randomisation. For the final analysis all data sets of students were included who had fully attended one of the two course versions; students participating in academic exchange programmes (e.g. ERASMUS) were excluded (see Fig. 3).Fig. 3


Differences in procedural knowledge after a “ spaced ” and a “ massed ” version of an intensive course in emergency medicine, investigating a very short spacing interval
Flow chart: Included and excluded students
© Copyright Policy - OpenAccess
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License 1 - License 2
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC5037615&req=5

Fig3: Flow chart: Included and excluded students
Mentions: The course was held at three different sites of the campus, so we had to use a mobile set of 20 notebooks. This made it impossible to assess all students who were enrolled in the course. For testing we selected those time slots at which the largest number of students was expected to participate in the voluntary KF-test. Two sessions at the beginning of the term were used to test the technical environment. We defined all students as eligible for the KF-test who were scheduled for regular course assessment at time slots, at which we had the technical environment to perform KF-testing. Distribution of cohorts followed the routine process at the office of students affairs, without formal randomisation. For the final analysis all data sets of students were included who had fully attended one of the two course versions; students participating in academic exchange programmes (e.g. ERASMUS) were excluded (see Fig. 3).Fig. 3

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

ABSTRACT

Background: Distributing a fixed amount of teaching hours over a longer time period (spaced approach) may result in better learning than delivering the same amount of teaching within a shorter time (massed approach). While a spaced approach may provide more opportunities to elaborate the learning content, a massed approach allows for more economical utilisation of teaching facilities and to optimise time resources of faculty. Favourable effects of spacing have been demonstrated for postgraduate surgery training and for spacing intervals of weeks to months. It is however unknown, whether a spacing effect can also be observed for shorter intervals and in undergraduate medical education. Therefore, we aimed to evaluate the effect of a short spacing intervention within an undergraduate intensive course in emergency medicine (EM) on students’ procedural knowledge.

Methods: An EM intensive course of 26 teaching hours was delivered over either 4.5 days, or 3.0 days. After the course students’ procedural knowledge was assessed by a specifically developed video-case based key-feature test (KF-test).

Results: Data sets of 156 students (81.7 %, 191 students eligible) were analysed, 54 from the spaced, and 102 from the massed version. In the KF-test students from the spaced version reached a mean of 14.8 (SD 2.0) out of 22 points, compared to 13.7 (SD 2.0) in the massed version (p = .002). Effect size was moderate (Cohen’s d: 0.558).

Conclusion: A significant spacing effect was observable even for a short spacing interval in undergraduate medical education. This effect was only moderate and may be weighed against planning needs of faculty and teaching resources.

Electronic supplementary material: The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12909-016-0770-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

No MeSH data available.