Comparison between didactic lectures and small group discussions among second year medical undergraduates in pharmacology

Madhav Kashinath Savkar, Vinaya Mariswamy, Manu Gangadhar


Background: The drawbacks associated with didactic lectures can be overcome by small group discussions (SGDs) which involve a limited number of participants, produce interaction, allow better understanding of concepts, and critical thinking. The objectives of our study were to assess the preferences of 2nd year medical undergraduates between the didactic lectures and the SGDs and the enhancement of knowledge by SGDs in Pharmacology.

Methods: This is a mixed (qualitative and quantitative), interventional study, conducted in 2nd MBBS students (n=130). After obtaining the informed consent and Institutional Ethics Committee clearance, the pre and post-tests (20 MCQs) before and after the didactic lectures were conducted. Second set of pre and post-tests with different and validated MCQs of the same topic were conducted before and after 3 SGDs. The preferences of the students between these 2 methods were also assessed using 10 parameters. The results were analysed by paired and unpaired’t’ test and percentages.

Results: The means (Standard Deviation [SD]) of the scores obtained by the students before and after didactic lectures were 7.53 (2.27) and 9.02 (2.92), respectively and before and after SGDs were 8.2 (1.95) and 11.42 (2.74), respectively. When the means of post-tests of lectures and SGDs were compared using unpaired’t-test' the difference was extremely significant with the P value of <0.005. Students showed preferences for SGDs over lectures in all 10 parameters.

Conclusions: More SGDs should be incorporated in the subject of pharmacology, along with didactic lectures to enhance the active learning, communication skills and critical thinking among the students.


Didactic lectures, Enhancement, Knowledge, Small group discussions, Pharmacology

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