MANUSCRIPT: Concept mapping enhances learning of biochemistry.
Background: Teaching basic science courses is challenging in undergraduate medical education because of the ubiquitous use of didactic lectures and reward for recall of factual information during examinations. The purpose of this study is to introduce concept maps with clinical cases (the innovative program) to improve learning of biochemistry course content. Methods: Participants were first year medical students (n=150) from Saveetha Medical College and Hospital (India); they were randomly divided into two groups of 75, one group attending the traditional program, the other the innovative program. Student performance was measured using three written knowledge tests (each with a maximum score of 20). The students also evaluated the relevance of the learning process using a 12-item questionnaire. Results: Students in the innovative program using concept mapping outperformed those in the traditional didactic program (means of 7.13-8.28 vs. 12.33-13.93, p<0.001). The students gave high positive ratings for the innovative course (93-100% agreement). Conclusion: The new concept-mapping program resulted in higher academic performance compared to the traditional course and was perceived favorably by the students. They especially valued the use of concept mapping as learning tools to foster the relevance of biochemistry to clinical practice, and to enhance their reasoning and learning skills, as well as their deeper understanding for biochemistry.