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“MAKE IT REAL, MAKE IT PERSONAL”: THE DEVELOPMENT OF CLINICAL CASES BY STUDENTS AS A TOOL TO PROMOTE A MEANINGFUL, DEEP AND COMPREHENSIVE LEARNING IN PHARMACOLOGY

A. Garcimartín, A. Bocanegra, E. González Burgos, M.S. Fernández-Alfonso, F. Gómez-Oliver, L. García-García, J.J. Merino, I. Ureña-Vacas, M. Hernández-Martín, J. Manzano, A. García-Aguilar 

Complutense University of Madrid, Department of Pharmacology, Pharmacognosy and Botany, Faculty of Pharmacy (SPAIN)
Introduction:
As pharmacology teachers, promoting that our Pharmacy students achieve a deep-rooted learning is our main purpose. During the past academic year (2020-2021), we implemented an innovative project entitled “Development of clinical cases as a strategy of situated knowledge to achieve deep learning in pharmacology”. The student’s activity lied in developing a real clinical case designed accordingly to four learning principles: constructive, reciprocal, self-regulated and situated. The clinical case needed to be related to someone socially closed to the student, hence providing a framework in which the student involved himself/herself with the acquisition and application of knowledge. A total of 215 students (175 women and 40 men) from the 3rd course of the Pharmacy Degree and the Pharmacy and Nutrition Double Degree from the Faculty of Pharmacy of the Complutense University of Madrid (Spain) voluntarily participated in this project.

Objective:
The main goal was to evaluate the effectiveness of this methodology in promoting deep learning in pharmacology students.

Methods:
“Likert Scale” surveys were used to evaluate the student’s experience by addressing their type of motivation (intrinsic or extrinsic), their opinion regarding the usefulness of the activity and the methodology applied to improve their understanding of pharmacology and its real application. Survey data were analyzed using SPSS 25.0 statistical package. Spearman correlations were performed to assess correlations. Statistical significance was considered when p≤0.05.

Results:
Regarding the nature of the motivation, our analyses revealed that 57.7% of the students had been driven to participate in the activity by an extrinsic factor, due to their final grade of the subject. By contrast, 40.8% decided to participate driven by their interest in learning (intrinsic motivation). Overall, more than 90% of the students fully agreed or agreed with the opinion that this project helped in better understanding the matter. Furthermore, 80% of the students totally agreed or agreed with the opinion that receiving classmates’ comments contributed to the improvement of their clinical case; while 86% affirmed that reading the clinical cases of other students contributed to increase their theoretical understanding. Actually, Spearman tests revealed significant and positive correlations between these two variables as well as with the contribution of this activity in their understanding of pharmacology. These peer review activities were included in the planning to encourage teamwork, and after its positive assessment, this methodology could be considered validated. Interestingly, the students’ type of primary motivation did not correlate with any of the other three variable studied.

Conclusions:
The development of real clinical cases by the students positively contributed, not only to the acquisition of theoretical information but more importantly, to achieve a comprehensive understanding through the practical and direct application of pharmacology. Moreover, the pedagogic benefit of this methodology proves to be independent from the nature of the original motivation. Furthermore, it may raise their awareness about the significance of deep learning of pharmacology that might further extend to their attitude towards their overall professional life.