Using Self-Assessment Virtual Patients on Mobile Devices

Background: Since 2009, the undergraduate course at St George’s, University of London (SGUL) has used online Virtual Patients (VPs) to deliver its Problem-Based Learning (PBL) curriculum. VPs allow learners to explore the consequences of the decisions that they make, providing a rich and engaging learning experience ideally suited for the teaching of clinical reasoning. In addition to the PBL sessions, SGUL provides students with a structured programme (1-3 per week) of additional VPs designed for formative self-assessment, which correspond to and complement the learning provided by the PBL curriculum. However, when provided through a web interface, student take-up of these resources was considerably lower than anticipated. Objective: To address low student usage of self-assessment resources by offering VPs on a delivery platform that better suited their working habits for self-directed learning. Method: Based on the results of a student survey, conducted annually, that polls student use of mobile devices, an app that allows virtual patients to be played on mobile devices was developed. The app included assessment functionality such as single best answer and enquiry-based questions, and cumulative scoring, and allowed VPs to be downloaded to the device and played without the need to maintain a network connection. The design of the app was informed by both usability studies and student feedback. Results: The app was first released to students in September 2011, and the same assessment VPs are made available on the app as on the web. Feedback from students indicates that the app has been warmly received, and that the self-assessment resources are now being used more widely, with a higher student-uptake. Conclusions: Student motivation to make use of self-directed learning resources was increased by using a delivery platform which suited their learning needs and working habits.


Friday, 6 April, 2012 - 14:30 to 16:15