The link between increased perceived effectiveness of a pre-lecture online module and self-motivated learning
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INTRODUCTION: Medical school curricula are shifting away from passive traditional lecture styles to a more engaging active learning style. This includes flipped-classroom and problem-based learning. While there is evidence that active learning promotes memory retention, critical thinking and self-directed learning, it is also met with resistance from both educators who lack the time or pedagogical training and students who have grown comfortable with passive lecture-based learning. In 2015, Boston University School of Medicine implemented an active learning online learning module, Softchalk, utilized by first year students in an integrated course, Principles Integrating Science and Medicine. Based on survey analysis, Softchalk was a successful learning tool and was once again used in 2016. Improvements were made to Softchalk for the upcoming 2016 class. These consisted of making the learning modules more condensed, consistent and Softchalk was no longer requiring them to be completed for a grade. OBJECTIVE: Assess and compare 2015 vs. 2016 survey results to gauge the student’s perceived effectiveness of Softchalk. METHODS: A mixed-methods survey analysis study was administered to first year medical students enrolled in the biochemistry course at Boston University School of Medicine (total of 180 matriculates). The survey was a voluntary and anonymous. It consisted of two open-ended free response questions and six Likert Scale questions. RESULTS: Softchalk has been incorporated into the curriculum for two years, 2015 and 2016 and thus student responses were compared. There was a significant difference in both student perception of Softchalk providing a foundation for the course (p= 0.001) and helping the students stay on track (p=0.024). However, there was no significant difference between the 2015 and 2016 cohorts in regards to Softchalk providing more effective questions (p= 0.08) or the use of Softchalk as a teaching tool (p=0.051). In the free-response questions, student responses were compared and showed that Softchalk was much more favorable in 2016 than 2015. CONCLUSION: Perceptions of Softchalk were much more favorable in 2016 in comparison to 2015. This thesis is arguing that the main factor in the increased perception of Softchalk was based on the fact that it was no longer required to complete. In 2015, Softchalk was presented as an optional tool for learning instead of another requirement to complete. Students who utilized Softchalk were more likely to have a favorable outlook because it conducive to their learning style. In addition, Softchalk allows students to develop self-directed learning skills by allowing them to be in control of their learning experience, which becomes increasingly important for the clinical clerkship learning and beyond.