Objectives We aimed to establish the most effective order in which to deliver teaching to medical students when using both bedside teaching (BT) and computer-based learning (CBL) and to ascertain the students’ preferred method and order of delivery.
Methods A sample of 28 medical students were randomly divided into two equal groups during their orthopaedic knee examination teaching session. Group 1 received standard BT and group 2 undertook a CBL package. Each group then undertook an objective structured clinical examination (OSCE). The groups then received the other method of teaching followed by another OSCE. A questionnaire was administered to all students to assess their views on, and preferences for, the various teaching methods.
Results Mean scores on the first OSCE were 12.19 for group 1 (BT then CBL) and 11.96 for group 2 (CBL then BT) (P = 0.692). Mean scores on the second OSCE were 11.81 for group 1 compared with 12.79 for group 2 (P = 0.038). Statistical analysis showed a significantly better score improvement for group 2 (CBL then BT) over group 1 (BT then CBL). Of the 26 students who returned questionnaires, 24 (92%) expressed their preference for traditional BT over CBL only, and 23 (88%) were in favour of undertaking CBL prior to traditional BT.
Conclusions The CBL package is a useful tool and is most effective if used before BT. Students prefer BT alone over CBL alone, but, if offered both, prefer to undertake CBL first.