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Learning and teaching risk of bias using a mock trial with interactive voting technology

Date and Location




Saturday 21 September 2013 - 13:30 - 15:00
Presenting author and contact person

Presenting author

Philip Baker

Contact person

Philip Baker
Abstract text
Background: Teaching the concepts and components of randomised controlled trials (RCT) and risk of bias assessment can be challenging. For many people, learning is enhanced when knowledge is able to be acquired from an active-learning, hands-on experience. Unfortunately, teaching these concepts is often lecture-based and distant from a real-life setting. Objectives: We developed an innovative teaching module by conducting a mock RCT “Live the Trial” utilising audience response technology and candy to demonstrate the steps of a RCT. This enables collection of trial data in real-time, and identify and demonstrate risks of bias. We sought to assess whether the experience increased learning and confidence. Methods: Within a classroom setting, participants were randomised and blinded to one of two candy preparations. The steps of a RCT were followed and the risks of bias identified and discussed throughout the class which was then integrated with a critical appraisal tool. Participants’ knowledge, outcome measurements and opinions were obtained with the innovative use of wireless interactive voting devices that were synchronised with the randomisation. Results: We report the experience of a class of post-graduate students. The percentage of students “confident” / “very confident” in identifying the steps of an RCT increased from 25% and 4% respectively, to 73%. Confidence in identifying risks of bias also increased. At the onset 27% of participants indicated they were “confident” while none indicated they were “very confident”. Upon conclusion 79% reported “confident”/ “very confident”. Students also reported the use of interactive voting helped them learn, feel more engaged and increased their opportunity to interact with the lecturer. Conclusions: The mock RCT is a fun approach which increased student’s knowledge and confidence in risk of bias assessment. The use of technology to facilitate interactive voting provides an instant response and participation of everyone to enhance the classroom experience.