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 Table of Contents  
ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2016  |  Volume : 2  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 80-83

Self-directed learning to enhance active learning among the 2nd-year undergraduate medical students in Microbiology: An experimental study


1 Department of Microbiology, Pondicherry Institute of Medical Sciences, Puducherry, India
2 Department of Biostatistics, Pondicherry Institute of Medical Sciences, Puducherry, India

Date of Submission30-Sep-2016
Date of Acceptance19-Oct-2016
Date of Web Publication13-Jan-2017

Correspondence Address:
K Sandhya Bhat
Department of Microbiology, Pondicherry Institute of Medical Sciences, Puducherry
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/2455-3069.198379

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  Abstract 

Background: Self-directed learning (SDL) is considered as one of the best teaching tools for adult education, which is considered to be associated with the management of lifelong learning, for better outcomes. In line with the Medical Council of India vision to promote innovations in education, to create lifelong learners, and to encourage creative youngsters, SDL sessions were conducted for the third-semester students in the Department of Microbiology.
Materials and Methods: An interventional study was carried out among all 96 Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery students in the third semester, in the academic year 2014, at Pondicherry Institute of Medical Sciences for systematic bacteriology topics by the Department of Microbiology. Didactic lectures and SDL sessions were conducted simultaneously. Both sessions were evaluated by a pretest and posttest using MCQs as assessment tool. Students' feedback was also collected.
Results: Out of 96 third-semester students participated in the study, 36 were males and 60 were females. Results of pre- and post-test scores for both sessions were analyzed, which showed an increase in the mean score of 2.70 in the didactic lectures group, as against 2.09 in the SDL group. Anonymous feedback from students revealed that SDL classes were interesting, helped in better understanding of the topics, stimulated reasoning, and helped in active learning process.
Conclusion: SDL strategies were found to be effective in stimulating thinking and understanding of the topics and to enhance the cognitive skills among the learners.

Keywords: Adult education, self-directed learning, teaching tool


How to cite this article:
Devi S, Bhat K S, Ramya S R, Ravichandran K, Kanungo R. Self-directed learning to enhance active learning among the 2nd-year undergraduate medical students in Microbiology: An experimental study. J Curr Res Sci Med 2016;2:80-3

How to cite this URL:
Devi S, Bhat K S, Ramya S R, Ravichandran K, Kanungo R. Self-directed learning to enhance active learning among the 2nd-year undergraduate medical students in Microbiology: An experimental study. J Curr Res Sci Med [serial online] 2016 [cited 2017 Dec 17];2:80-3. Available from: http://www.jcrsmed.org/text.asp?2016/2/2/80/198379


  Introduction Top


Education is a process which aims at bringing about desirable changes in the behavior of the learner. Lifelong learning is a skill that must be possessed by medical graduate students, which can be achieved by students taking their own responsibility in learning process.[1],[2] Self-directed learning (SDL) is considered as one of the best teaching tools for adult education. SDL is defined as “a process in which individuals take the initiative, with or without the help of others, in identifying their learning needs, formulating learning objectives, identifying resources required for learning, choosing and implementing appropriate learning strategies, and finally evaluating learning outcomes.”[3],[4],[5]

In SDL, the learners are responsible for their own learning process and it gradually shifts the learning control from teachers to learners.[4],[5],[6] SDL also enables health professionals to continue learning and update knowledge during their careers.[7],[8] Curiosity, critical thinking, better understanding, retention and recall, motivation, and confidence are associated with SDL. Lifelong SDL skills are necessity for survival, especially among health professionals, which in turn reduces the numbers of demotivated medical graduates.[3],[4],[9]

SDL has been carried out with various approaches. Most important is to set the learning objectives concrete so that learners find it achievable when they have to learn for themselves. One form of SDL is to give case-based scenarios and guide the learners with questions, leading them to answers using recommended learning resources.[8],[9],[10],[11] The Medical Council of India (MCI) regulations on graduate medical education (2012) prescribe specific hours for SDL. In Phase II, 124 h has been earmarked as teaching for SDL. Hence, it becomes important to know some of the ways for utilizing SDL hours during Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) curriculum.[12]

Pondicherry Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS), Puducherry, India, which was established in 2002, at present, admits 150 students annually, for the MBBS course. As MCI regulations, 2012 emphasizes the problem-based learning, hence this teaching tool has been identified as one of the methods to facilitate the development of SDL.[4],[13] In line with the MCI vision to promote innovations in education, to create lifelong learners, and encourage creative youngsters, an innovational education program on SDL was conducted in 2014, for the third-semester students in the Department of Microbiology.

The aim of the study was to promote the role of lifelong learner among undergraduate medical students.

Specific objectives

  1. To develop SDL competency among 2nd-year MBBS students in microbiology
  2. To achieve SDL by introducing assignments in systematic bacteriology topics.



  Materials and Methods Top


An interventional study was carried out among all 96 MBBS students in Phase II (third semester), in the academic year 2014, at PIMS for systematic bacteriology topics by the Department of Microbiology. Four traditional didactic lectures were conducted in systematic bacteriology classes during the third semester for the following topics - Antimicrobial resistance, Bacillus anthracis, β-hemolytic streptococci, and  Streptococcus pneumoniae Scientific Name Search ng which, hand in hand, even SDL sessions were also conducted for following four topics – Staphylococci,  Neisseria More Details, Corynebacterium diphtheriae, and Vibrio cholerae.

One week before the SDL sessions, assignments were given to the students in the form of problem-based questions, with the specific learning objectives. On the day of the SDL sessions, initially, the students were given time to discuss and present the same topic based on the problem-based question provided. After this, the class was divided into smaller groups randomly and each smaller group was assigned a specific learning objective. Topics were discussed to cover all the specific learning objectives. The whole session was facilitated by two or three faculty of the Department of Microbiology.

This was the basic method followed for all SDL sessions. The standard microbiology textbooks were mandatory for all SDL sessions.

Both didactic lectures and SDL sessions were evaluated by a pretest and posttest using MCQs as assessment tool. Students' feedback was collected. A control group could not be included in this study as it was not possible as all the students of the class were simultaneously involved in the same method.


  Results Top


Out of 96 third-semester students who participated in the study, 36 were males and 60 were females. [Figure 1]a and [Figure 1]b shows the comparison of pre- and post-test scores of both didactic lectures and SDL sessions, respectively.
Figure 1: (a) Comparison of pre- and post-test scores of each didactic lecture sessions. (b) Comparison of pre- and post-test scores of each self-directed learning session

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Regardless of the group, an increase in the score from pre- to post-test was observed in all the MCQ tests conducted after each session [Figure 1]a and [Figure 1]b.

[Table 1] and [Figure 2] show comparison of pre- and post-test scores of both didactic lectures and SDL sessions. Mean score of 2.70 was increased in posttest compared to pretest in the didactic lectures group as against 2.09 in the SDL group.
Table 1: Comparison of pre and post test scores of both didactic lectures and self directed learning sessions

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Figure 2: Comparison of post-test scores of both self-directed learning session and didactic lectures

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Anonymous feedback about SDL sessions was collected from all 96 students and the results are shown in [Table 2].
Table 2: Anonymous feedback from students about SDL classes

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About 63.9%, 71.6%, 67.1%, and 59.0% of the participant either Agreed or Strongly agreed that the SDL classes were interesting, helped in better understanding of the topics, stimulated reasoning and helped in active learning process, and evoked discussion and good interaction, respectively.


  Discussion Top


The most natural response to newness, or challenges in our surroundings, is SDL.[4],[14] This study analyzed the readiness for SDL among the third-semester medical students using SDL. According to Fisher et al., greater scores indicate the readiness for SDL. In our study, we found scores of 71.6% students strongly agreed that SDL sessions were useful. This suggests that most of the students were ready for SDL. SDL ultimately reflected on their learning process and outcomes.[4],[15],[16] The students who are ready for SDL can be motivated self-learner throughout their career. SDL sessions were found to be effective in stimulating thinking and understanding of the topics. This can enhance their cognitive skills and habit of reading.[4],[7]

Our study indicates that before introducing any new student-centric teaching tool, in place of traditional teacher-centric educational approach, students will require proper sensitization and orientation. In SDL, a facilitator can assume different roles. In case of dependent learners, the facilitator needs to be an authority figure in guiding them on what to do, how to do it, and when to do. For these students, learning is teacher-centered. In case of learners capable of learning with minimal self-direction, learners respond better to motivational teaching methods. For students with moderate self-direction who possess skills and knowledge, they participate in their own education. In case of students capable of high self-direction, they set their own goals, objectives, and standards with or without help from experts or facilitators.[3],[17]

In the present study, the students felt that SDL sessions were found to be simple, effective, enjoyable, and useful method to inculcate active learning among learners, thereby facilitating better understanding of a given subject. SDL can be conducted by involving several activities which make students participate interactively. As the students were fully responsible for finding the answers for the learning objectives given to them, they were forced to think, make a search, do group discussion, and come up with the answer. This had a more impressive outcome on the learners than the passive listening in the didactic lectures. This would also improve the long-term memory and enable for a better memory recall. SDL activities virtually compelled the students to go through the books, read the topics carefully, pick up the answers, summarize, which they might have not done otherwise following a didactic lecture. These types of learner-centered educational tool provide an opportunity to modify our curriculum and create many innovations in medical education.[3],[4]

However, our study had a few limitations. Since the study was conducted in only one medical college, the results cannot be generalized to other medical colleges. In addition, the study was conducted only for a short duration with limited portions in systematic bacteriology. Hence, the results cannot be implied to a larger student group.


  Conclusion Top


SDL strategies were found to be effective in stimulating thinking and understanding of the topics and to enhance the cognitive skills among the learners. It facilitated the learner to inculcate a habit of constant motivational reading, refer the textbooks, and make them more independent, which is a prime necessity for medical graduates.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

 
  References Top

1.
Kumar S, Zayapragassarazan Z. Self directed learning in graduate medical curriculum. NTTC Bull 2012;19:2-3.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Ziyaee S, Ahmadabadi M. Relationship between teaching method and self-directed learning of high school students in Isfahan. Adv Nat Appl Sci 2014;8:11-6.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Kar SS, Premarajan KC, Ramalingam A, Iswarya S, Sujiv A, Subitha L. Self-directed learning readiness among fifth semester MBBS students in a teaching institution of South India. Educ Health (Abingdon) 2014;27:289-92.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Gyawali S, Jauhari AC, Shankar PR, Saha A, Ahmad M. readiness for self directed learning among first semester students of a medical school in Nepal. J Clin Diagn Res 2011;5:20-3.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Williams B. Self direction in a problem based learning program. Nurse Educ Today 2004;24:277-85.  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
Kukkamalla A, Shobha KL. Self directed learning (SDL) Strategies to enhance active learning and better understanding in microbiology – An experimental study. Indian Med 2006;3:2005-6.  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.
Candy PC. Self-Direction for Life Long Learning: A Comprehensive Guide to Theory and Practice. San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass; 1991.  Back to cited text no. 7
    
8.
Pai KM, Rao KR, Punja D, Kamath A. The effectiveness of self-directed learning (SDL) for teaching physiology to first-year medical students. Australas Med J 2014;7:448-53.  Back to cited text no. 8
    
9.
Jennings SF. Personal development plans and self-directed learning for healthcare professionals: Are they evidence based? Postgrad Med J 2007;83:518-24.  Back to cited text no. 9
    
10.
Ainoda N, Onishi H, Yasuda Y. Definitions and goals of “self-directed learning” in contemporary medical education literature. Ann Acad Med Singapore 2005;34:515-9.  Back to cited text no. 10
    
11.
Mazmanian P, Feldman M. Theory is needed to improve education, assessment and policy in self-directed learning. Med Educ 2011;45:324-6.  Back to cited text no. 11
    
12.
Regulations on Graduate Medical Education, 2012, Medical Council of India. Available from: http://www.psgimsr.ac.in/faculty%20-2/REGULATIONSON%20GRADUATE%20MEDICAL%20EDUCATION-%202012.pdf. [Last accessed on 2014 Aug 24].  Back to cited text no. 12
    
13.
O'Shea E. Self-directed learning in nurse education: A review of the literature. J Adv Nurs 2003;43:62-70.  Back to cited text no. 13
    
14.
Fisher M, King J, Tague G. Development of a self-directed learning readiness scale for nursing education. Nurse Educ Today 2001;21:516-25.  Back to cited text no. 14
    
15.
Greveson GC, Spencer JA. Self-directed learning – The importance of concepts and contexts. Med Educ 2005;39:348-9.  Back to cited text no. 15
    
16.
Kaufman DM. ABC of learning and teaching in medicine: Applying educational theory in practice. BMJ 2003;326:213-6.  Back to cited text no. 16
    
17.
Malta S, Dimeo SB, Carey PD. Self-direction in learning: Does it change over time? J Allied Health 2010;39:e37-41.  Back to cited text no. 17
    


    Figures

  [Figure 1], [Figure 2]
 
 
    Tables

  [Table 1], [Table 2]



 

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Abstract
Introduction
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