Addressing current problems in teaching pathology to medical students: blended learning

Moira Maley, Jennet Harvey, Bastiaan De Boer, N.W. Scott, G.E. Arena

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Forces influencing the remodelling of medical curricula have clouded the visibility of pathology teaching yet its mastery is central to the study of medicine. The shortage in the workforce available for routine clinical diagnosis, research and teaching, and increasing student numbers have driven the development of innovative teaching methods.Aims: To develop teaching methods which improved student satisfaction and engagement in their learning of pathology, and which also accommodated larger classes.Methods: An iterative development cycle adopting effective use of the web and sound instructional design pedagogies was followed. Two face-to-face formats, i.e. small group and large group, and a self-directed web-based (online) format were implemented on a cohort of 220 third year medical students. Outcomes were evaluated by analysis of a student preceptions questionnaire and of students’ web footprints in the online resource.Results: Themes relating to teaching techniques, learning preferences and accessibility issues emerged as significant in the students’ perceptions. Measures of user “online avidity”, “case breadth compliance” and “formative assessment compliance/diligence” were determined by comparing historical behaviour in the web resource with patterns of use within these modules. Students who were proven avid online users entered the resource more frequently than less avid users. However less avid online users did not necessarily access a narrower breadth of cases than avid online users. Students who made maximal use of the web formative assessments tended to have better summative outcomes.Conclusions: The students adopted the online resource as a learning tool. The optimal combination of small group face-to-face tutorials and the self-directed web-based (online) format improved pathology teaching, partly because it satisfied a broader range of learning styles in students. The cycle used of develop, implement, evaluate was successful as it engaged the students, was evidence based and driven by discipline experts who were commited teachers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e1-e9
JournalMedical Teacher
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2008


Dive into the research topics of 'Addressing current problems in teaching pathology to medical students: blended learning'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this