Enhancing veterinary students' clinical decision-making skills by promoting revision of their decision-making process in case-based learning
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Despite the importance of clinical decision-making, recent veterinary graduates felt that their clinical decision-making skills were so minimal that they were unable to complete their work independently. In order to enhance veterinary students’ clinical decision-making skills, two instructional supports—a case-based online learning module and scaffolded revision activities—were implemented based on a case-based learning model proposed by Choi and his colleagues (2013) and findings from other research. To elaborate, the case-based online learning module was utilized to enhance veterinary students’ knowledge application by providing realistic context, and scaffolded revision activities were utilized to promote reflective thinking by providing students with an opportunity to compare their opinions to those of experts and/or peers. Forty-seven out of one-hundred-two veterinary junior students who enrolled in a small animal digestive disease course participated in this study. The participants were allowed to self-select between three scaffolded revision activity groups: expert commentary only, expert commentary as well as early peer feedback, and expert commentary as well as later peer feedback. Quantitative data and qualitative data were collected from students’ initial and revised clinical decisions, a transfer decision-making test, an online survey, and face-to-face interviews. The quantitative results indicated that the scaffolded activity with expert commentary was helpful in enhancing the quality of the participants’ revised clinical decisions. However, the peer feedback and its timing did not influence the quality of the revised clinical decisions. Furthermore, the results of the transfer test showed that there was no statistically significant difference among the three groups. The qualitative results based on the online survey and face-to-face interviews provided further insights that students could potentially benefit from the expert commentary in solidifying their clinical knowledge and facilitating reflection upon their decision-making process. Furthermore, the participants who received peer feedback felt that it helped them retain knowledge better by allowing them to communicate their thoughts with peers.