Original Article

Evaluating a Blended Learning Model for Medical Student ECG Teaching

Authors: Adrienne W. Mann, MD, John Cunningham, MD, Alexis Tumolo, MD, Christopher King, MD

Abstract

Objectives: The ability to interpret a 12-lead electrocardiogram (ECG) is an essential skill in inpatient and outpatient settings. In medical school, this skill is generally taught during the Internal Medicine clerkship. Blended learning is a pedagogical tool that combines different modes of information delivery, models of teaching, and learning styles combining face-to-face learning sessions with online learning. The objectives of this study were to develop a curriculum using a blended educational model including lecture, focused educational videos, flipped classroom, and team-based learning to teach a systematic approach to ECG interpretation and enhance the ability of students to identify common and life-threatening electrocardiographic abnormalities.

Methods: Between 2016 and 2019, 349 medical students from the University of Colorado School of Medicine received the blended learning curriculum, which included an introductory lecture followed by five 30-minute sessions. These sessions encompassed preclass videos and team-based learning in a flipped-classroom design covering critical concepts in electrocardiography. A sample of 64 students completed a survey evaluating confidence in ECG interpretation skills before and after the curriculum. All of the students completed a 17-item pretest and posttest.

Results: The new curriculum improved learner confidence in ECG interpretation (Wilcoxon signed rank-sum test, P < 0.001). Postcurriculum test scores showed statistically significant improvement in all of the diagnoses tested (paired Student t test, P < 0.01), the most significant gains occurring in the life-threatening tracings of ventricular fibrillation and in ventricular tachycardia.

Conclusions: Using a blended learning model with multiple educational modalities resulted in significant improvement in learners’ performance and confidence in ECG interpretation.

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