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Evidence for curricular and instructional design approaches in undergraduate medical education: An umbrella review

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journal contribution
posted on 10.02.2015 by Betty Onyura, Lindsay Baker, Blair Cameron, Farah Friesen, Karen Leslie

Introduction: An umbrella review compiles evidence from multiple reviews into a single accessible document. This umbrella review synthesizes evidence from systematic reviews on curricular and instructional design approaches in undergraduate medical education, focusing on learning outcomes.

Methods: We conducted bibliographic database searches in Medline, EMBASE and ERIC from database inception to May 2013 inclusive, and digital keyword searches of leading medical education journals. We identified 18,470 abstracts; 467 underwent duplicate full-text scrutiny.

Results: Thirty-six articles met all eligibility criteria. Articles were abstracted independently by three authors, using a modified Kirkpatrick model for evaluating learning outcomes. Evidence for the effectiveness of diverse educational approaches is reported.

Discussion: This review maps out empirical knowledge on the efficacy of a broad range of educational approaches in medical education. Critical knowledge gaps, and lapses in methodological rigour, are discussed, providing valuable insight for future research. The findings call attention to the need for adopting evaluative strategies that explore how contextual variabilities and individual (teacher/learner) differences influence efficacy of educational interventions. Additionally, the results underscore that extant empirical evidence does not always provide unequivocal answers about what approaches are most effective. Educators should incorporate best available empirical knowledge with experiential and contextual knowledge.