The Science Journal of the American Association for Respiratory Care

2003 OPEN FORUM Abstracts

DEVELOPMENT OF AN ONLINE PROBLEM-BASED LEARNING COURSE

Hernlen KM MBA RRT, Billman C MS, Taft AA PhD RRT, Dennison FH MEd RRT RPFT, CR Hall Sr MS RRT-NPS RPFT, Reyes JJ BS RRT-NPS, SC Mishoe PhD RRT FAARC, Baker RR PhD RRT RCPT . Medical College of Georgia , Augusta, Georgia


Background:
Problem-based learning (PBL) incorporates active student participation that can result in more effective learning. This educational technology is usually accomplished through interactive, faculty-facilitated, small group discussions. However, this methodology limits access for distance students. To increase student enrollment we developed an online curriculum. Online courses that do not utilize active learning methodology may be ineffective. Thus, our goal was to create a model cardiopulmonary pathophysiology course that incorporated the principles of problem-based learning and critical thinking.

Methods:
The course was based on a patient problem previously developed for a faculty-facilitated, face-to-face PBL program. The model consisted of five, two-week modules requiring individual and both asynchronous and synchronous group assignments. Eleven students were enrolled in the initial online course. In each of the five modules patient information was presented in an audiovisual format. Students reviewed the patient information and were given two weeks to develop a written response to assigned learning issues using evidence-based resources. Concurrently, students participated in an asynchronous discussion of psychosocial issues related to the module. Faculty used rubrics to evaluate students' use of critical thinking skills to gather and communicate information. At the end of each module, students completed a quiz to access a Learner's Guide containing key information. Patient management issues were addressed in two, 50-minute, student-facilitated chats after modules two and four. The course was completed using an exercise that incorporated critical thinking and branching logic into its design. Content knowledge was tested through both multiple choice and essay exams. The course was evaluated through student/faculty discussions and surveys.

RESULTS:
Eight students completed the course evaluation. All students completing the evaluation "Agreed" or "Strongly Agreed" that the Online PBL course encouraged responsibility for their own learning, improved research skills, and strengthened their ability for written expression. In addition, the majority of students (7 of 8) reported that they learned a great deal compared to other courses taken at this level. Evaluation of the course also revealed areas for improvement. Timely feedback from the faculty about the student's performance and their needs should be improved. Clearer instructions for navigating the course were considered necessary. In addition, students felt the amount of required work was not reasonable.

Discussion:
Active student participation and learning was demonstrated throughout the course. Students felt their critical thinking skills were improved following the course. The course was revised to emphasize the discussion component and decrease the number of required learning issues. The importance of timely, appropriate faculty feedback has been stressed. These revisions have been incorporated into additional online courses in our cardiopulmonary pathophysiology PBL series. An online evaluation process will be incorporated into all courses in this PBL series to improve course relevance and quality.

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