An Analysis of Student Performance with Podcasting and Active Learning in a Pharmacotherapy Module

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Objectives: The objective was to determine the effect of podcasting, with resultant increased in-class active learning time, on student performance.

Methods: In an effort to increase in-class active learning time and improve understanding of the material in a third-year pharmacotherapy course, podcasts were developed to cover specific topics and were made available outside-of-class for students in 2010. Students in the same course in the year 2009 had received identical in-class didactic instruction for these topics. End-of-course exam scores were adjusted using analysis of covariance and compared using the t-test.

Results: The class averages on the end-of-course exams were significantly higher at 77.5 ± 1.2 (n = 65) for the class of 2009 compared to 72.9 ± 1.5 (n = 71) for the class of 2010 (p = 0.019). This difference remained significant after adjusting the 2009 and 2010 classes for the covariates. The difference between the classes was further magnified when using the covariate of GPA, 78.3 ± 1.2 compared to 72.2 ± 1.1 (p < 0.001) for the classes of 2009 and 2010, respectively. Rank ordering resulted in a significant difference in the exam grade in the lower 50th percentile 73.2 ± 1.6 (n = 34, 2009 class) compared to 65.8 ± 1.9 (n = 34, 2010 class), p = 0.004. No significant differences were noted between the two classes for those students in the upper 50th percentile.

Conclusion: Increased in-class active learning time led to decreased examination scores for the lower 50th percentile of students in the 2010 cohort. One potential explanation is that students were not held accountable for completing the out-of-class preparatory exercises.