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Case-based learning in endocrine physiology: an approach toward self-directed learning and the development of soft skills in medical students

This article describes a study concerning the effectiveness of case based learning. he Medical Council of India, in the recent Vision 2015 document, recommended curricular reforms for undergraduates. Case-based learning (CBL) is one method where students are motivated toward self-directed learning and to develop analytic and problem-solving skills. An overview of thyroid physiology was given in a didactic lecture. A paper-based case scenario of multinodular goiter was given to phase I Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery students in two sessions. An attitude survey of the students and teachers was done using a Likert scale ranging from strongly disagrees to strongly agree. A pretest and posttest were conducted. The students opined that CBL helped them to better their understanding of a particular topic, gave them better retention of knowledge, helped them to relate clinical conditions to basic sciences, improved soft skills such as communication skills and group dynamics, and promoted a better teacher-student relationship. There was significant improvement in student's performance when pre- and posttest scores were compared (P = 0.018). Furthermore, faculty members opined that CBL promoted self-study and problem-solving abilities of the students. In conclusion, CBL motivates students toward self-directed learning and to develop analytic and problem-solving skills; thus, CBL could be beneficial for students' entry into clinical departments and, finally, in managing patients.

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