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Original Research

RMJ. 2014; 39(3): 344-348

Small group discussion as a learning strategy for medical undergraduates.

Rifat Nadeem Ahmad, Mahwish Majid Bhatti, Asna Haroon Khan, Sameena Ghayur, Shahid Rafi, Sajida Naseem, Ghazala Mudassar.


Objective: To assess the perceptions of students and faculty of Shifa College of Medicine regarding the effectiveness of small group discussion as a learning strategy.
Methods: This cross-sectional survey was conducted at Shifa College of Medicine, Islamabad, in November 2013. Students of 3rd, 4th and Final Year MBBS along with faculty were asked to respond to structured questionnaires based on a 3-point Likert scale regarding small group discussion as a learning strategy. Frequencies and percentages were calculated for each variable in the questionnaire. Enrolment was voluntary and anonymous.
Results: A total of 217 students and 50 faculty members responded to the questionnaires. Most of the students had a positive attitude towards small group discussion, which they felt allows them to better achieve their learning objectives (82%), is student-centred (76%) and promotes critical thinking (72%), self learning (84%) and motivation (67%). They believe it is a better method for understanding subject matter (74%) and retaining knowledge (78%) than lectures. More than half (66%) wanted it as the main strategy for delivering course objectives. The faculty also preferred small group discussion over conventional lectures (90%), as it encouraged student participation (88%) and active learning (84%). However, they had concerns regarding logistics of conducting small groups (78%) and standardization in delivering objectives (52%). Half of them believed that other teaching methods should also be utilized.
Conclusion: Small group discussion as a learning strategy has wide acceptability among both students and faculty, as it promotes active learning and allows them to better achieve learning objectives.

Key words: Education, Medical, Undergraduate; Problem-based learning; Group processes; Focus groups.

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