Background: Near-peer teaching and electronic learning (e-learning) are two effective modern teaching styles. Near-peer sessions provide a supportive learning environment that benefits both the students and the tutor. E-learning resources are flexible and easily distributed. Careful construction and regular editing can ensure that students receive all of the essential material. The aim of this study is to compare the efficacy of e-learning and near-peer teaching during the pre-clinical medical curriculum. Methods: Thirty-nine second-year medical students were consented and randomised into two groups. Each group received teaching on electrocardiogram (ECG) interpretation from a predefined syllabus. Eighteen students completed an e-learning module and 21 students attended a near-peer tutorial. Students were asked to complete a multiple-choice exam, scored out of 50. Each student rated their confidence in ECG interpretation before and after their allocated teaching session. Results: The near-peer group (84%) demonstrated a significantly higher performance than the e-learning group (74.5%) on the final assessment (p = 0.002). Prior to the teaching, the students' mean confidence scores were 3/10 in both the near-peer and e-learning groups (0, poor; 10, excellent). These increased to 6/10 in both cases following the teaching session. Discussion: Both teaching styles were well received by students and improved their confidence in ECG interpretation. Near-peer teaching led to superior scores in our final assessment. Given the congested nature of the modern medical curriculum, direct comparison of the efficacy of these methods may aid course design.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2016 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.