Salopek, Daniela and Lovrić, Jasna and Hren, Darko and Marušić, Ana (2009) Temporal structure of first-year courses and success at course exams: comparison of traditional continual and block delivery of anatomy and chemistry courses. Croatian Medical Journal, 50 (1). pp. 61-68. ISSN 0353-9504 (Print) 1332-8166 (Electronic)
AIM: To evaluate students' academic success at delivered in a traditional continual course, spread over the two semesters, or in alternating course blocks. ----- METHOD: We analyzed the data on exam grades for Anatomy and Chemistry courses in the first year of the curriculum for academic year 2001/02, with the traditional continual delivery of the courses (n=253 for chemistry and n=243 for anatomy), and academic year 2003/04, with block delivery of the courses (n=255 for Chemistry and n=260 for Anatomy). Grades from the final examination were analyzed only for students who sat the exam at the first available exam term and passed the course. For the Anatomy block course, grades at 2 interim written tests and 2 parts of the final exam (practical stage exam and oral exam) in each block were analyzed for students who passed all interim tests and the final exam. ----- RESULTS: There were no differences between two types of course delivery in the number of students passing the final examination at first attempt. There was a decrease in passing percentage for the two Anatomy block course student groups in 2003/04 (56% passing students in block 1 vs 40% in block 2, P=0.014). There was an increase in the average grades from 2001/02 to 2003/04 academic year due to an increase in Chemistry grades (F1,399=18.4, P<0.001, 2 x 2 ANOVA). There was no effect of the sequence of their delivery (F1,206=1.8, P=0.182, 2 x 2 ANOVA). There was also a significant difference in grades on interim assessments of Anatomy when it was delivered in the block format (F3,85=28.8, P<0.001, between-within subjects 2 x 4 ANOVA). ----- CONCLUSIONS: The type of course delivery was not associated with significant differences in student academic success in Anatomy and Chemistry courses in the medical curriculum. Students can successfully pass these courses when they are delivered either in a continual, whole year format or in a condensed time format of a course block, regardless of the number and type of courses preceding the block course.
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