Full paper Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia 2015

A new tool for providing interactive and collaborative histopathology training to prepare medical students for the workforce (#59)

Johanna Elms 1 , Stephanie Dowdell 1 , Simone Van Es 1 , Betty Kan 1 , Nicholas Hawkins
  1. School of Medical Sciences, BEST Network, UNSW, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Abstract Content (up to 300 words recommended)

 The Rational Use of Investigations course (RUI) is an elective for senior medical students at UNSW, advancing graduate skills in the interpretation of pathology investigations. In the workplace, junior doctors are expected to work both individually and in a team to effectively communicate their clinical findings. UNSW‘s graduate attributes include; ‘leaders who are collaborative team workers’, ‘capable of effective communication’ and ‘capable of independent, self-directed practice’. The Biomedical Skills and Education (BEST) Network led by UNSW and including several Australian universities, has developed an annotation tool for their image repository, Slice. The tool enables students working individually to interact with digital histology slides, marking features that are used for diagnosis. The students then work in teams, sharing annotations to facilitate discussion and feedback. We believe this technology from the BEST Network, will further assist us assess UNSW graduate capabilities in the RUI course. A cohort of 16 students enrolled in the RUI course was divided into 2 groups. Group 1 undertook a traditional multi-header microscope teaching session while group 2 undertook a lesson using the Slice online annotation tool. The groups alternated over the four face-to-face sessions. At two points during the course both groups were given a 15-minute formative assessment. Results indicated that the group who had completed the Slice lesson performed better on the formative assessment. These results are promising, particularly in view of the additional questionnaire feedback; 100% want more virtual annotation tools to aid histopathology learning and agreed that Slice allowed collaboration with peers and educators.  This small study gives us indication that online tools that engage students through peer and teacher collaboration in class can improve student’s capabilities to enter the workforce. Future studies of this tool with larger groups and with an additional comparative glass slide assessment at the end of the trial are recommended.

Addressing the theme/s of the Conference (up to 200 words recommended)

Our paper addresses the conference subthemes “Assessing, evidencing and evaluating graduate capabilities” and “Exploiting emerging technologies to enable employability”. Rational Use of Investigation (RUI) is a course designed to assist the development of graduate capabilities for medical students at UNSW. The course has previously lacked tools to easily assess and evaluate the student’s skills to enter the work-force. We have employed an online tool specifically designed to assist students meet the graduate capabilities required including group collaboration and independent practice, and, provided a way for educators to assess both of these capabilities in the classroom. By utilising an emerging technology, the BEST Network biomedical image repository, and accessing interactive tools we have created a way for senior students to develop the skills required for clinical diagnostics. Our trial is the first describing the use of the Slice annotation tool in the classroom. We have demonstrated on a small scale the impact of emerging online technologies on the ability to assess, evidence and evaluate graduate capabilities and enhance the students exposure to clinical diagnostic scenarios they may experience in the work-force.

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