Web-based radiology curriculum outperforms traditional teaching methods

A web-based radiology curriculum hosted on Radiopaedia.org resulted in better test scores among medical students than traditional teaching methods, according to research published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology.

“Web-based learning tools are increasingly available for use and have been described in the pedagogical literature,” wrote lead author Alexander El-Ali, MD, of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, and colleagues. “However, rigorous comparisons between traditional learning methods and newer collaborative online tools have not been performed.”

El-Ali and colleagues offered a 1-hour case-based learning session to medical students participating in a radiology rotation. The students were randomly assigned to receive their curriculum via traditional methods or a web-based medium hosted by Radiopaedia.org before that in-class session.

To determine if the students retained the information, the researchers administered a 15-point questionnaire at the beginning of their clinical rotation and at the end of the mandatory in-class session.

A total of 47 students were used as part of the final study cohort. The authors found that students who completed the web-based radiology curriculum on Radiopaedia.org had higher mean knowledge scores (74 percent correct quiz answers) compared to students who completed the traditional learning material (68 percent). Also, the web-based students showed increased knowledge and retention of the ACR Appropriateness Criteria.

“These findings suggest that the Radiopaedia.org website is advantageous for teaching radiology at the undergraduate medical school level," the authors wrote. "Web-based learning and social media resources are becoming increasingly important in the practice of radiology, and reports have cited Radiopaedia.org as the single largest source of information for radiology learners after Google."

The researchers noted two critical limitations of their study: They were not able to “establish long-term educational efficacy of their educational interventional because of a lack of time with the students" and they only focused on students studying pediatric radiology.

“Future studies should seek to identify what, if any, are the long-term learning and retention benefits facilitated by learning on the Radiopaedia.org website,” El-Ali and colleagues concluded.