To test whether medical students find case-based discussion of child psychiatry more educationally stimulating and more enjoyable, and whether this leads to greater knowledge acquisition than traditional didactic lectures. Four cohorts of Cambridge medical students (n = 54) were randomised to case-based discussion or traditional didactic lectures for two topics in their psychiatry placements. Enjoyment and stimulation were determined by feedback forms; knowledge acquisition was tested by an end-of-placement exam.
Students in case-based discussion groups scored significantly higher than students in the lecture groups in the extent to which they enjoyed the teaching session (P = 0.006); the extent to which they understood the principles of management of real-life patient problems (P = 0.044); and their interest in looking up further information (P = 0.003). There was no significant difference in exam performance (P = 0.9).
Medical students find case-based discussion more engaging and enjoyable than didactic lectures, with no reduction in exam performance.
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