Online Team-Based Learning in Teaching Hyponatremia Among Medical Clerks of the University of Santo Tomas Faculty of Medicine and Surgery, Philippines


Objectives: To determine if online team-based learning (TBL) is effective in improving knowledge outcomes and confidence about hyponatremia in its clinical recognition, classification, diagnostic work up, and management among fourth year medical students

Study design: A quantitative evaluative design.

Population and Setting: Fourth year medical students (medical clerks) rotating in the Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Surgery, University of Santo Tomas, Manila, Philippines from July to December 2020.

Methodology: A modified TBL workshop is adopted in teaching fourth year medical clerks about hyponatremia.  The TBL session was held with a group of medical clerks weekly from July to December 2020. As a pre-workshop preparation, the medical clerks were assigned to read ahead of time the clinical practice guidelines on the diagnosis and treatment of hyponatremia developed by the European Renal Best Practice. After reading it, they were asked to answer an Individual Readiness Assessment Test (IRAT) composed of 20 case-based multiple-choice questions (MCQ). The group was thereafter divided into 4 subgroups and asked to discuss the same MCQ-based exam and present it as a Team Readiness Assessment Test (TRAT). As each subgroup presented their IRAT, the facilitator discussed the underlying concepts for each question and its application in actual cases of hyponatremia. The facilitator then summarized the learning outcomes at the end of the TBL workshop. For team application (TAPP), the students created a concept map and formulated admitting orders. The medical clerks were then surveyed on their confidence in hyponatremia diagnosis and management during pre-TBL workshop, after IRAT, after TRAT, and after discussion with the facilitator.

Statistical Design: Descriptive statistics were used to summarize the study variables and included the mean, standard deviation, frequency, and percentage. Within-group comparisons of different outcomes across the different timeframes were conducted using one-way multivariate analysis of variance (one-way MANOVA). Cognizant that the study has multiple outcomes or dependent variables which were compared at four different timeframes, multivariate analysis was utilized to minimize the inflation of family-wise errors (FWE).

Results: Comparative analysis indicated that the mean readiness scores of the respondents after TRAT was significantly higher (t=–91.61, p=0.001) compared to the mean readiness scores after IRAT. Comparative analysis using paired t-test indicated that the mean confidence scores of the respondents in the recognition, diagnosis, and treatment of hyponatremia were significantly higher among the respondents after the IRAT (t=–24.26, p=0.001), TRAT (t=–34.58, p=0.001), and facilitator discussion (t=–42.72, p=0.001) approaches compared to the mean pre-TBL confidence score. The mean knowledge score of the respondents on the creation of a concept map and the formulation of admission orders of patients with hyponatremia was 25.54±1.98 (95% CI 25.26-25.82).

Conclusion: Findings of this study are not  to be interpreted as demonstrating a causal relationship. Furthermore, the results are only hypothesis-generating at best. The study showed that online TBL has the potential to be an effective method in improving knowledge outcomes and confidence about hyponatremia in its clinical recognition, classification, diagnostic work-up, and management among fourth year medical students. As a preliminary evaluation of TBL, further studies can be conducted to determine its effectiveness as a teaching modality in the medical curricula in comparison to the traditional method before being adopted as a teaching-learning activity. 


Key words: team-based learning, online learning, COVID-19, hyponatremia, medical education 

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