Proceedings of The Physiological Society

Europhysiology 2018 (London, UK) (2018) Proc Physiol Soc 41, C113

Oral Communications

Explorative vs classical practical course - how to inspire scientific thinking in medical students

R. Schubert1, O. Zavaritskaya1, J. Eckel2, K. Schüttpelz-Brauns2

1. Cardiovascular Physiology, Medical Faculty Mannheim, University Heidelberg, Mannheim, Germany. 2. Department of Undergraduate Education and Educational Development, Medical Faculty Mannheim, Heidelberg University, Mannheim, Germany.

Introduction: Recently, the skills of medical students in scientific thinking have been identified as an important issue in medical education. Scientific thinking cannot be imparted by classic lectures, but require active involvement of students. We modified a practical course in physiology. A study was designed to test whether the new course facilitates scientific thinking without impairing physiological knowledge transfer. Methods: The study group consisted of 226 first year medical students of the Medical Faculty Mannheim of Heidelberg University. Written consent for participation in the study was obtained from all participants. The group was randomly divided into 2 groups (traditional vs. modified course). Subject of both courses was a laboratory experiment in skeletal muscle physiology. In the traditional course the students addressed topics already presented in lectures. In the modified course students dealt with the same topics as in the traditional course, but the experiment was extended to include one issue not taught before. When working on this issue, the students were instructed in scientific thinking. All participants filled a questionnaire with 15 multiple choice questions, addressing the physiological background, and 4 open questions, addressing criteria of scientific methodology. Results: Physiological knowledge in both groups did not differ (F(1)=2.08, p=0.15). Scores in scientific thinking in the modified course were higher (M=4.17, SD=1.91) than in the traditional course (M=2.04, SD=1.91) with F(1)=70.69, p<0.01, η2=0.24 (large effect). Conclusions: Our study demonstrates that small adjustments of courses in medical education can facilitate scientific thinking without impairing knowledge transfer. However, the level of scientific thinking was still quite moderate. Thus, the teaching of these principles should be improved.

Where applicable, experiments conform with Society ethical requirements