The research study was conducted in a 1-credit hour required DI class taught in the Fall 2016 semester of the first year of a traditional 4-year Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) curriculum. Goals of the course were to give students an overview of DI practice, expose them to basic DI skills, and teach them to answer DI questions using the systematic approach. The course used a mostly online structure, teaching students with weekly video lectures and assessing them via online assignments. Each week at 11:00 AM on Fridays, students accessed online materials, including recorded lectures and assignments, via Moodle (eg, Week 1). Students were required to review the videos and associated materials, then complete the affiliated assignment over the course of the next 7 days, specifically prior to the deadline of Friday at 10:59 AM; then at 11:00 AM, the next week’s materials (eg, Week 2) released. Six times during the semester, the course met in person to review taught content and provide students with opportunities to apply the concepts practically.
Most weekly assignments were multiple choice in nature, but in an attempt to diversify assignments and use new options available in Moodle, an interactive Moodle lesson was developed. The content of DI resources was selected because a self-directed lesson with ramifications for making various decisions aligns well with the requirement that students be able to utilize and search various DI resources and interpret identified information for applicability to various scenarios in order to execute the systematic approach to DI questions.
Both the traditional recorded lecture and Moodle lesson educational techniques used the same learning objectives for students, specifically: 1) to select and be able to use the most appropriate DI resources to answer DI questions; 2) to identify DI resources by publication mechanism (ie, textbook, online, or both); and 3) to distinguish between DI references in the same category by being able to recognize differences between them. The instructor used the same information, pictures on slides, and script for both learning methodologies.
The traditional lecture organized 54 DI resources into 18 categories in a 46-min recorded PowerPoint presentation that used 89 slides. Students in this cohort were not provided a handout and there was no opportunity for practice questions.
The 109-page (88 content and 21 question pages) Moodle lesson covered the same 54 DI resources using videos with a maximum length of 2 min. These videos were incorporated into 6 scenarios covering the same 18 categories as the recorded presentation. Students were provided a handout aligned with the lesson and given the opportunity to answer 21 resource-specific practice questions during the lesson. Figure 1 (Title: Moodle lesson images) provides an example of how one of the sections of the Moodle lesson was organized.
To establish similarity at baseline, students took a brief, 6-question quiz at the beginning of the semester; completion of the assessment was considered willingness to participate. Names of participating students were included in the first column of a Microsoft Excel (Microsoft Corporation, Redmond, WA) spreadsheet and a random number (ie, 1 or 2) was then generated in the next column. Based on the result of the random number, students were assigned to receive DI resources education by either the traditional method of recorded lecture or the new Moodle lesson. The local institutional review board (IRB) approved the study.
During week 6 of the semester, students learned about DI references. The LMS released either the recorded lecture or lesson educational materials to the students, based on their assigned group following randomization. Following review of the educational content, both groups of students completed an 11-question assignment for a grade. Students then completed a 3-item survey on their experience with the assigned education technique. The survey utilized a Likert scale (1 = strongly agree to 5 = strongly disagree) and students responded to the following 3 statements: 1) “The time associated with reviewing content prior to completing the assignment was reasonable”; 2) “The presentation of drug information resources was valuable to learning the material”; and 3) “The overall experience associated with learning about drug information resources was satisfying”. At the end of the semester, the students repeated the baseline assessment, which included identical questions, to evaluate retention of knowledge.
Characteristics of the 2 educational techniques were compared. The primary outcome of the study was student retention, as measured by the student median grade on the end-of-semester assessment. Secondary outcomes included the student median grade achieved on the post-lecture/lesson assignment and student opinion based on survey results. Group median grades were compared with Mann-Whitney U tests in SPSS v22 and student thoughts were compared via descriptive statistics.