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SYNCHRONOUS LECTURES: IS IT APPEALING FOR MEDICAL STUDENTS TO LEARN BIOCHEMISTRY?

E. Alias , N.A.S. Ismail

The National University of Malaysia (MALAYSIA)
Conventional face-to-face lecture is the main teaching-learning method of the undergraduate pre-clinical students in the Faculty of Medicine University Kebangsaan Malaysia. Following the government-imposed partial lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the first year medical students not allowed to be in the campus yet they are required to attend online classes. Considering that distance learning through online lectures is a novel experience to almost all first year medical students, it was necessary to conduct a study assessing their perceptions towards online lectures. Considering majority of lectures were synchronous (conducted like the face-to-face lectures but online), it is also interesting to assess how much the students enjoy live streaming lectures as compared to watching videos of lectures available online.

A simple validated questionnaire was made available online to the first-year medical students. To avoid confusion on terminologies, in the questionnaire, synchronous lectures are termed as live streaming lectures, while asynchronous lectures are represented as pre-recorded video of PowerPoint slides with audio. 104 of them participated and became respondents.

Surprisingly, it was found that only nearly 30% of the respondents preferred synchronous lectures. Smaller proportion of the respondents (27.9%) believes that synchronous lectures are more effective than the asynchronous lectures. Further analysis on reasons that may account for their preference for synchronous lectures revealed that 93.5% of them felt that they could understand the explanation given during synchronous lectures. About 90.35% agreed that having own device to listen to live streaming lectures is another factor accounting for their preference for synchronous lectures over asynchronous ones. Interestingly, the reasons that we initially anticipated to be the most common for preferring synchronous lectures such as:
1) ability to ask questions promptly, and
2) more engagement between students and lecturers, are agreed by only about ¾ of the respondents. About 65% respondents preferred synchronous lectures because they dislike listening to long videos.

The data may suggest that only minority students prefer synchronous lectures compared to the asynchronous lectures. This finding is important for lecturers in deciding which lecture delivery method is best suited for students’ learning. With regards to synchronous lectures, it is strongly advised for the educators to consider those concerns related to preference for synchronous lectures such as the availability of devices for online classes among the students.