Effect of practice on standardised learning outcomes in simulation-based medical education


William C McGaghie PhD, Office of Medical Education and Faculty Development, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, 3–130 Ward Building, 303 East Chicago Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60611–3008, USA. Tel: 00 1 312 503 0174;
Fax: 00 1 312 503 0840; E-mail: wcmc@northwestern.edu


Objectives  This report synthesises a subset of 31 journal articles on high-fidelity simulation-based medical education containing 32 research studies drawn from a larger qualitative review published previously. These studies were selected because they present adequate data to allow for quantitative synthesis. We hypothesised an association between hours of practice in simulation-based medical education and standardised learning outcomes measured as weighted effect sizes.

Methods  Journal articles were screened using 5 exclusion and inclusion criteria. Response data were extracted and 3 judges independently coded each study. Learning outcomes were standardised using a common metric, the average weighted effect size (AWES), due to the heterogeneity of response measures in individual studies. anova was used to evaluate AWES differences due to hours of practice on a high-fidelity medical simulator cast in 5 categories. The eta squared (η2) statistic was used to assess the association between AWES and simulator practice hours.

Results  There is a strong association (η2 = 0.46) between hours of practice on high-fidelity medical simulators and standardised learning outcomes. The association approximates a dose–response relationship.

Conclusions  Hours of high-fidelity simulator practice have a positive, functional relationship with standardised learning outcomes in medical education. More rigorous research methods and more stringent journal editorial policies are needed to advance this field of medical education research.