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What's your best time? Chronometry in the learning of medical procedures

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Abstract

Objectives

Most medical procedures have a time element. It is uncommon, however, to explicitly use chronometry, the measurement of time, in the learning of these procedures. This study considered whether instructional designs that include chronometry could improve deliberate practice and be used in meaningful formative assessments.

Methods

A selective review of the medical education literature was undertaken to identify how chronometry was used in a broad sampling of medical education research in the learning of medical procedures. We identified prior publications in which time measurement was used either directly as a pedagogic intervention or as an assessment method in a medical school programme.

Results

Our review suggests a number of desirable features of chronometry. For the individual learner, procedural time measurements can demonstrate both improving ability and increasing consistency. Chronometry can enhance instructional designs involving deliberate practice by facilitating overlearning (i.e. learning that goes beyond minimum competence), increasing the challenge level and enhancing self-regulation of learning (e.g. self-competition). Breaking down chronometric data into meaningful interval or split times might further inform instructional designs.

Conclusions

Chronometry has the potential to contribute to instructional designs and assessment methods in medical procedures training. However, more research is needed to elucidate its full potential and describe possible negative consequences of this widely available but underutilised educational tool.

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