Improving diagnostic capabilities of medical students via application of cognitive sciences-derived learning principles
Article first published online: 9 MAR 2007
Volume 41, Issue 4, pages 419–425, April 2007
How to Cite
Papa, F. J., Oglesby, M. W., Aldrich, D. G., Schaller, F. and Cipher, D. J. (2007), Improving diagnostic capabilities of medical students via application of cognitive sciences-derived learning principles. Medical Education, 41: 419–425. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2929.2006.02693.x
- Issue published online: 14 MAR 2007
- Article first published online: 9 MAR 2007
- Received 27 March 2006; editorial comments to authors: 18 August 2006; accepted for publication 31 October 2006
- clinical competence/*standards;
- heart failure;
Purpose There is limited experimental evidence concerning how best to train students to perform differential diagnosis. We compared 2 different methods for training 2nd-year medical students to perform differential diagnosis (DDX) of heart failure: a traditional classroom-based lecture (control group) versus a cognitive sciences-based approach to DDX instruction implemented through a computer-based tutor (treatment group).
Methods Following random assignment to either group, students were trained for 75 minutes, and then given a 40-item examination comprised of cases that varied along a typicality gradient from prototypical (easy) to less typical (hard).
Results The treatment group diagnosed correctly significantly more test cases than the control group (74% versus 60%, respectively). The treatment group also diagnosed correctly significantly more cases at the extremes of the typicality gradient: 81% versus 65%, respectively, for the prototypical cases; 65% versus 48%, respectively, for the most difficult cases.
Conclusion The ability to perform differential diagnosis is enhanced by training based upon principles of cognitive sciences.