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M. Mala-Maung1, A. Abdullah2, N. Hashim1

1International Medical University (MALAYSIA)
2University of Nizwa, Oman (OMAN)
As reflection is increasingly seen to promote competencies of medical practitioners , medical schools have been encompassing reflective writing pedagogy within their curriculum to nurture reflective capacity . The International Medical University (IMU) initiated Assigned Independent Reading (AIR) to enhance reflective writing and self-directed learning. AIR, is an online, computer-assisted learning resource to compliment the effectiveness of problem-based learning and to promote self-directed learning in students . AIR is based on a “One-alone: Online Resources Paradigm” in which the student is expected to interact with online resources and to effectively use information technology to search, evaluate, and critically review scientific evidence. AIR also provides a one-to-one interaction with the lecturer as individual formative feedback is given online. Timely formative feedback should be given as it is an essential component for effective teaching and learning to develop and is deemed to create a good rapport between learner and facilitator .
Many universities worldwide include e-learning as a delivery tool and the extent of its appreciation and utilisation varies greatly among users. This study analysed the performance and perception of AIR by a particular intake of students undergoing the Phase 1 Medical programme at the IMU, as they progressed from semesters one through five. AIR topics given to the students were selected to reflect the disciplines undertaken during the respective system for each semester. Students attempted the assignments independently and submitted the portfolios online. The total number of students attending each semester varied from 174 to 181. The rate of students submitting the AIR portfolio ranged from 89% to 96%. The study found that the grades achieved by the students generally increased as they progressed to the higher semesters. This may be attributable to enhancement of students’ summarising, synthesizing, and writing skills as they became actively involved through writing the structured assignments.

Providing an opportunity for learners to be part of their education environment nurtures responsibility of one’s own learning which forms a critical component of independent, lifelong learning. To this end, the students were requested to provide an evaluation on AIR through a questionnaire. The feedback given by the students would be encompassed in further improving AIR. Of the 181 students studying in semester five, 160 provided a voluntary and anonymous evaluation of the AIR platform. The questionnaire addressed issues relating to the learning environment (expertise of faculty, usefulness in understanding subject, adequacy of references, online accessibility) and pedagogy (learning objectives, relevance of reading material, motivation for learning, instructions). The learners’ feedback given on these components was highly positive.