Published: 2019-03-23

A questionnaire-based comparison of conventional teaching methods to computer assisted learning in experimental pharmacology for undergraduate medical students

Ravi Kant Tiwari, Sandeep K. Gupta, R. K. Goel


Background: Computer Assisted Learning (CAL) for teaching experimental pharmacology is now widely accepted as alternative to animal experiments. The objective of this study was to compare the performance of undergraduate medical students by conventional teaching methods (lecture and discussion) and CAL.

Methods: This was a questionnaire based observational study involving 109 MBBS students of fifth semester. The students were taught experimental pharmacology practical by both conventional methods (lecture with discussion) and computer assisted learning (CAL). Questionnaire and their filled responses by these students were taken at the end of lecture-discussion (pre-CAL) and after the CAL experiments (post-CAL), covering the same topics of experimental pharmacology. Pre-CAL and post-CAL data were assessed statistically.

Results: In the pre-CAL session, only 53.39%, 47.56%, 53.39% and 49.5% of the students were having the scores above 40% in the rabbit eye, DRC and potentiation, frog heart and dog BP experiment respectively, which was increased to 77.44%, 75.48%, 75.47% and 75.48% of the students respectively in the post-CAL assessment. A statistically significant difference (p <0.05) in the performance was observed among the students in the pre-CAL and post-CAL assessment.

Conclusions: CAL is a good alternative to animal experimentation. Lecture with discussion, followed by CAL experiments on the same topics, enhanced the performance of students as shown by improvement in post-CAL scores.


Animal experiments, Computer assisted learning, Experimental pharmacology

Full Text:



Sudha J. Graduate Training Programmes in Pharmacology in India. Health Admin. 2006;19(1):88-91.

Vadivelan R, Santilna KS, Elango K, Sirisha S. Alternatives to animal experimentation in teaching pharmacology: computer assisted learning techniques in Pharmacy curriculum. Ind J Pharmacy Pharmacol. 2015;2(1):70-3.

The Gazette of India. Extraordinary. part III- Section 4 (No. 88). New Delhi, Wednesday, March 19, 2014/Phalguna 28, 1935. Establishment of Medical College Regulations, 1999-Animal House. Medical Council of India Notification. New Delhi, 2014 (No.MCI-34(41)/2013-Med./64020). Available at: Accessed 19 April 2018.

Hughes IE. Do computer simulations of laboratory practicals meet learning needs?. Trends Pharmacol Sci. 2001;22(2):71-4.

Nettah S. Computer assisted learning (CAL) as a teaching learning method in teaching experimental pharmacology. Int J Basic Clin Pharmacol. 2014;3:63-5.

Sharma D, Malhotra P. A comparison of computer assisted learning and practical animal experiment for undergraduate medical students in pharmacology curriculum-a questionnaire-based study conducted in a medical college of North India. Inter J Basic Clin Pharmacol. 2016;5(6):2581-4.

Govindaraja C, Prakash HJ, Annamalai C, Vedhavathy SS. Computer assisted learning: Perceptions and knowledge skills of undergraduate medical students in a Malaysian medical school. National J Physiol Pharm Pharmacol. 2011;1(2):63.

Gaikwad N, Tankhiwale S. Interactive E-learning module in pharmacology: a pilot project at a rural medical college in India. Persp Med Edu. 2014;3(1):15-30.

Leathard HL, Dewhurst DG. Comparison of the cost-effectiveness of a computer-assisted learning program with a tutored demonstration to teach intestinal motility to medical students. ALT-J. 1995;3(1):118-25.

Jain S, Sharma K, Jain P, Singh S. Computer assisted learning versus conventional teaching: a questionnaire-based study. Int J Basic Clin Pharmacol. 2017;6:1399-404.

Kuruvilla A, Ramalingam S, Bose AC, Shastri GV, Bhuvaneswari K, Amudha G. Use of computer assisted learning as an adjuvant to practical pharmacology teaching: Advantages and limitations. Ind J Pharmacol. 2001;33(4):272-5.

Tikoo D, Gupta M. Student's perception and experience of computer assisted learning as a teaching method in experimental pharmacology. Int J Basic Clin Pharmacol, 2015;4(6):1168-74.

Dewhurst DG, Hardcastle J, Hardcastle PT, Stuart E. Comparison of a computer simulation program and a traditional laboratory practical class for teaching the principles of intestinal absorption. Adv Physiol Edu. 1994;267(6):S95.

John LJ. A review of computer assisted learning in medical undergraduates. J Pharmacol Pharmacotherapeutics. 2013;4(2):86.

Sewell RD, Stevens RG, Lewis DJ. Pharmacology experimental benefits from the use of computer-assisted learning. Am J Pharmaceut Edu. 1996;60(3):303-7.

Dewhurst D. Is it possible to meet the learning objectives of undergraduate pharmacology classes with non-animal models?. AATEX. 2007;14:207-12.