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S.D. Paredes1, L. Rancan1, C. García1, J.C. García2, I. Garutti3, C. Simón3, J.A. Zueco1, J.A. Fernández-Tresguerres1, E. Vara1

1Complutense University of Madrid (SPAIN)
2University of Alcalá (SPAIN)
3Complutense University of Madrid / Gregorio Marañón University General Hospital (SPAIN)
University education, and the mode of learning whilst at university, needs to prepare students for entry to an environment that demands non-routine cognitive and interpersonal skills, equipping them with appropriate tools, knowledge, values and attributes to thrive in it. It has been shown that exposure to formal debating provides a means of addressing some of the weaknesses regularly displayed by pre-graduate and graduate students. These beneficial effects are extended to improved ability to communicate, write, and read, encouraging students to conduct practical research and condense information sources in an efficient and critical manner. Reflective practice in the teachers’ work should imply the evaluation of the consequences of all the innovations implemented in the classroom, considering positive aspects of the experience but also the areas which should be reviewed or improved for similar initiatives in the future. This work presents results of a quantitative analysis of an innovative teaching experience based on formal debate, carried out by students of the degree of Medicine of the Complutense University of Madrid. This activity was designed to reinforce the communication skills and the critical analysis in response to the basic-clinical and social demand to have future medical doctors better trained in these fields. Students received an invitation to complete a survey created with Google Docs once the innovation activity was finished. The completion of the survey was anonymous and non-compulsory. Participants had to score whether their participation in the innovation activity had helped them develop these specific skills, ranging their responses from 0, when the activity had not helped them at all acquire or train specific skills, to 3, if it had totally helped them do it. According to data, it can be concluded that the objectives of the innovation activity were achieved. In particular, most students considered that they increased their analysis, synthesis, and organizational abilities after the activity. They also opined that their oral and written communication skills, as well as their capabilities to solve problems and make decisions were improved. In addition, they thought that the preparation of debates trained them in finding credible information sources and increased their motivation for the quality of information. In this regard, they developed a scientific-oriented, critical attitude towards research and scientific reports since the aim of the activity was to refute the statements of the opponent group through evidence and scientific arguments. Thus, they had to scrutinize if the scientific papers they were using were well designed, if they had flaws, or if the conclusions were supported by the results. Most students also acknowledged that their participation in the activity help them improve their ability to work in interdisciplinary teams, develop and upgrade their skills in interpersonal relationship, learn autonomously, and adapt to new situations. Finally, they agreed that their creativity and initiative for increasing their knowledge on Health Science topics augmented. The evaluation of this innovative experience allowed participating professors to reflect on their teaching practice and the learning experience of students while being part of innovative educational practice. Moreover, it will assist professors to improve the design and development of similar teaching strategies in the future.