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Qualitative and Quantitative Outcomes of Audience Response Systems as an Educational Tool in a Plastic Surgery Residency Program

Arneja, Jugpal S., M.D.; Narasimhan, Kailash, M.D.; Bouwman, David, M.D.; Bridge, Patrick D., Ph.D.

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery: December 2009 - Volume 124 - Issue 6 - p 2179-2184
doi: 10.1097/PRS.0b013e3181bcf11f

Background: In-training evaluations in graduate medical education have typically been challenging. Although the majority of standardized examination delivery methods have become computer-based, in-training examinations generally remain pencil-paper–based, if they are performed at all. Audience response systems present a novel way to stimulate and evaluate the resident-learner. The purpose of this study was to assess the outcomes of audience response systems testing as compared with traditional testing in a plastic surgery residency program.

Methods: A prospective 1-year pilot study of 10 plastic surgery residents was performed using audience response systems–delivered testing for the first half of the academic year and traditional pencil-paper testing for the second half. Examination content was based on monthly “Core Quest” curriculum conferences. Quantitative outcome measures included comparison of pretest and posttest and cumulative test scores of both formats. Qualitative outcomes from the individual participants were obtained by questionnaire.

Results: When using the audience response systems format, pretest and posttest mean scores were 67.5 and 82.5 percent, respectively; using traditional pencil-paper format, scores were 56.5 percent and 79.5 percent. A comparison of the cumulative mean audience response systems score (85.0 percent) and traditional pencil-paper score (75.0 percent) revealed statistically significantly higher scores with audience response systems (p = 0.01). Qualitative outcomes revealed increased conference enthusiasm, greater enjoyment of testing, and no user difficulties with the audience response systems technology.

Conclusions: The audience response systems modality of in-training evaluation captures participant interest and reinforces material more effectively than traditional pencil-paper testing does. The advantages include a more interactive learning environment, stimulation of class participation, immediate feedback to residents, and immediate tabulation of results for the educator. Disadvantages include start-up costs and lead-time preparation.

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; and Detroit, Mich.

From the Division of Plastic Surgery, British Columbia Children's Hospital and University of British Columbia, and the Departments of Otolaryngology and Surgery and the School of Medicine, Wayne State University.

Received for publication January 21, 2009; accepted June 12, 2009.

Disclosure:The authors report no conflicts of interest and have no disclosures to make.

Jugpal S. Arneja, M.D.; British Columbia Children's Hospital; Division of Plastic Surgery; A237 Shaughnessy Building, Box 150; 4480 Oak Street; Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada V6H 3V4;

©2009American Society of Plastic Surgeons