MANUSCRIPT: Tackling student neurophobia in neurosciences block with team-based learning
Traditionally, neurosciences is perceived as a difficult course in undergraduate medical education with literature suggesting use of the term “Neurophobia” (fear of neurology among medical students). Instructional strategies employed for the teaching of neurosciences in undergraduate curricula traditionally include a combination of lectures, demonstrations, practical classes, problem-based learning and clinico-pathological conferences. Recently, team-based learning (TBL), a student-centered instructional strategy, has increasingly been regarded by many undergraduate medical courses as an effective method to assist student learning.
In this study, 156 students of year-three neuroscience block were divided into seven male and seven female groups, comprising 11-12 students in each group. TBL was introduced during the 6 weeks of this block, and a total of eight TBL sessions were conducted during this duration. We evaluated the effect of TBL on student learning and correlated it with the student’s performance in summative assessment. Moreover, the students’ perceptions regarding the process of TBL was assessed by online survey.
We found that students who attended TBL sessions performed better in the summative examinations as compared to those who did not. Furthermore, students performed better in team activities compared to individual testing, with male students performing better with a more favorable impact on their grades in the summative examination. There was an increase in the number of students achieving higher grades (grade B and above) in this block when compared to the previous block (51.7% vs. 25%). Moreover, the number of students at risk for lower grades (Grade B- and below) decreased in this block when compared to the previous block (30.6% vs. 55%). Students generally elicited a favorable response regarding the TBL process, as well as expressed satisfaction with the content covered and felt that such activities led to improvement in communication and interpersonal skills.
We conclude that implementing TBL strategy increased students’ responsibility for their own learning and helped the students in bridging the gap in their cognitive knowledge to tackle ‘neurophobia’ in a difficult neurosciences block evidenced by their improved performance in the summative assessment