Could not download file: This paper is available to authorised users only.

EXCEL’S SOLVER: A POWERFUL TOOL TO UNDERSTAND PHAMACOKINETICS CONCEPTS

M. Bermejo, M. González-Álvarez, I. González-Álvarez

Universidad Miguel Hernandez (SPAIN)
Evidence from a long experience as Pharmacokinetic teachers suggests that pharmacy students have great difficulty learning to apply pharmacokinetic principles to patient care. It is hypothesized that the problem is one of contextual transfer of learning. For this reason during long time the teaching staffs of our university and other universities have worked in order to design learning tools to explain these concepts to students with more clarity. Nowadays, the undergraduate pharmacokinetics course of our university was redesigned to teach the process of contextual transfer using active learning strategies. A modified mastery grading system was adopted to encourage consistent, long-term learning. We attempt to create an active learning environment even within these more traditional sessions.
The main strategy consists on design simple programs with which students could work autonomously to understand the relationships between clearance, distribution volume, dosage…. In this context the Excel’s solver has been found as a powerful tool in order to design simple exercises that allow the self-learning managed by the teacher. When it comes to solving problems where any number of variables can affect the outcome, Excel’s Solver tool can help you find the answer. Typically, students are guided through a step-by-step exercise demonstrating how Solver can be used to make corporate budgeting decisions. The students appreciated the ability to go at their own pace and that their active involvement was required. However, after working with this type of exercise a number of times with our students, we’ve found that while most were able to get through it fairly well, they had no idea how Solver arrived at the results, much less how to apply the tool to their own problems. So, as it has been mentioned above the activity has to be managed by the teacher in the classroom. This teaching/learning strategies proposed are not as time efficient as a traditional lecture. We approached this task with the essential problem-solving processes and pharmacokinetic models in mind, and deleted topics that were repetitive in either sense.
This article describes the development of a computer-based package of phamacokinetics strategy lessons and the benefits on the students learning