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


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)
Methods that encourage students to become involved in higher order thinking tasks such as analysis, synthesis, and evaluation are defined as active learning. Thus, active learning fosters complex thinking processes and improves retention, assimilation, understanding, and proper application of course content. Formal debates, a form of active learning, allow students an opportunity not only to identify that there is an issue to resolve, but also to demonstrate a deeper analysis of the issue, including appraisal, critique, and reasoning of the issue for a potential solution. These skills are also essential because healthcare professionals are frequently swamped with new evidence, and the only way to separate the valid from the invalid is to appraise and critique the evidence. With the aim of improving curricular and cross-curricular competences, medical students of the Complutense University of Madrid participated in an innovation activity consisting of a set of formal debate sessions. After the sessions were finished, professors developed and applied an extensive evaluation of the activity. Part of that evaluation was aimed at assessing the perceptions of participating students in relation to the use of formal debate as a didactic tool to improve their generic and specific competences. Students received an invitation to complete an e-questionnaire created with Google Docs once the innovation activity was finished. The completion of the survey was anonymous and non-compulsory. Participants had to score the components and features of the activity, ranging their responses from 0, when they were in total disagreement with the statement, to 3, if they totally agreed with it. During the preparation of debates, professors emphasized the importance of completing the survey in order to evaluate the activity, since it would provide feedback on the aspects that should be discontinued, repeated or improved. Students were asked if carrying out debates on a specific topic was an interesting methodological alternative in university teaching, if their participation in the activity had increased their motivation in the subject and degree, if it had helped them develop competences that other more traditional methodological strategies of teaching do not allow, if the diversity of topics discussed during the debate sessions was appropriate and formative, and if the activity should be repeated in the future. The majority of participating students rated these statements as “highly agree”, i.e., 3, with the exception of the question on their motivation, where responses were equally distributed between “agree” (2) and “highly agree” (3). This probably reflects the fact that most medical students are already motivated when they choose to study Medicine, a trend that normally continues or even increases during the degree. The innovation activity also included a competitive element since the audience, who was composed by their classmates, had to score their performance. For this reason, the questionnaire contained 2 additional items asking if this competitive aspect had increased their motivation and if they agreed that their peers participated in their evaluation. In both questions, participants said that they “highly agreed” with the statement. Finally, they also thought that the feedback provided by professors and moderators had been positive for their learning. These results encourage to continue celebrating the formal debate sessions with future students.