A novel, online, interactive, problem-based approach to learning oncology

Laura C. Batmanian


Higher education is undergoing major changes in the development and delivery of courses. An example is the introduction of online approaches to teaching and learning in the form of WebCT, The University of Sydney’s official delivery tool. This paper describes implementation of pedagogy designed to enhance learning in Oncology, a second year subject in the Bachelor of Applied Science (Medical Radiation Sciences), created by the amalgamation of two cross-disciplinary units of study, Tumour Pathology and Principles of Oncology. Four instructional strategies are described: a) domain specific educational instruction, e.g., explanatory notes (text/audio hints), self tests in the form of diagnostic exam and evaluation of subject, b) student-centred, problem-based learning dependent on group work to study and solve six clinically oriented cases (developed by cross disciplinary team), c) interactive online discussion to support collaboration and communication among students, academic as well as oncologist facilitators and d) a case Proforma which summarises the step-by-step clinical reasoning process to engage the students in the learning process. Implementation of the instructional design is enabled by the selective use of WebCT course management software. An account of the infrastructure used to enhance interactive problem-based learning at undergraduate level is provided. Feedback from students has been extremely positive.

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