Student perceptions on activity-based learning in physiology.
Student learning is one of the primary goals of any institution which strives hard to bring out the best in them. It is imperative that educators apply appropriate teaching strategies to reach this goal. [1,2] Didactic teaching is the most cost-effective and efficient means of information delivery for preclinical teaching, but it is not abreast with the current trends in medical education which promotes student-centered learning and active learning.  Physiology involves lot of concepts which cannot be learnt without active involvement of the students.
Knowles defined self-directed learning (SDL) as "a process in which individuals take the initiative, with or without the help of others, in diagnosing their learning needs, formulating goals, identifying human and material resources for learning, choosing and implementing appropriate learning strategies, and evaluating learning outcomes."  A study revealed that role of pre-clinical educators is not only teaching but also enabling students to learn on how to progress, retain, and apply what has been already taught.  Rao and Di Carlo compared traditional teaching with active learning groups and concluded that active involvement of the students in the learning process enhanced their academic performance.  A challenge for the teachers is to incorporate various methods to facilitate learner participation in the large group lecture setting.
Furthermore, several studies on comparing the effectiveness of didactic lectures with those of interactive, teaching styles have showed that student satisfaction, learning outcomes, deeper approach to learning, and knowledge retention are better following interactive lectures.  Any innovation needs to be tested for its efficiency in serving its purpose. While designing an innovative method, teachers have to realize the difficulty of the new entrants in the professional field handling a large amount of syllabus compared to their previous ones within the limited time frame. Hence, in this study, simple exercises such as fill in the blanks, match the columns, and complete the flowchart were given to the students a day before and after the lecture. Feedback from learners is most fundamental aspect to assess innovative teaching-learning methods. Therefore, student perceptions were analyzed to find if the intervention served the purpose.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
The 1st MBBS students studying in Bharati Vidyapeeth Deemed University Medical College, Sangli, were included in the study. This educational intervention was carried out after permission from Institutional Ethical Committee.
Students who had attended at least five lectures and solved the related activities were included.
Lectures of endocrine system were selected for intervention. In the first lecture, the students were explained about this intervention that would help them to understand each topic better. Activities such as multiple choice questions, questions based on graphs and photographs, fill in the blanks, and match the columns, for 7 lectures in endocrine system were prepared in such a way that the "must know areas'' in those topics were covered. Flowcharts with blanks were prepared in a way that concept regarding the mechanism of action of hormone or its release became clear. Based on prior experiences, topics in which majority of students' encounter confusion were used for true or false or choose correct answers from brackets. These activity sheets were given to them a day before the lecture wherein they were supposed to solve and return it the next day before starting of the lecture. Post-lecture another copy of the same sheet was given to them to be solved and returned immediately.
Data collection was done by student perception questionnaire which was validated by subject experts. It included four open-ended questions with 11 closed-ended questions to be answered based on 5-point Likert scale from strongly disagree to strongly agree. This was given to the students at the end of seven lectures. Statistical analysis was done by percentage calculation.
Feedback was considered as positive if [greater than or equal to]80% students were in favor of the method.
Total 100 students were included in the study. Based on the inclusion and exclusion criteria, only 59 questionnaires were considered for evaluation. Table 1 summarizes the percentage of students in each unit of Likert scale for each item in the questionnaire. Table 2 summarizes the percentage of students giving positive feedback for each item in the questionnaire.
There was a positive feedback from the students for all items in the questionnaire except one. The item that stated, "It has evoked inquisitiveness about the topic because of which I have started reading the books" got a feedback score of 76% which is a relatively low positive feedback. The reason could be they did not have academic maturity to function as adult learners, especially with regard to their motivation to learn as revealed in students' experiences studying in the 2nd year of their undergraduate education.  In open-ended questions, students suggested the copies of the activities to be returned to them. It was returned to them after analysis of the questionnaire. Few of them commented not to give the sheets as homework. These comments are suggestive of their involvement in the process.
Various interactive techniques have been used by educators to enhance the involvement of students during teaching. Student's perceptions for problem-based learning and case-based learning in physiology were positive for clearing doubts, understanding concepts and invoke SDL similar to our study. [9-11] Purposeful engagement and active learning technique is a way to make the lecture effective and can change the nature of learning, while simultaneously improving knowledge gain and recall abilities. Educational games such as computer-assisted learning and cardiovascular drug fun cricket have been found to reinforce the lectures, enrich the learning experience.
It allows the students to personalize learning at their own pace within the time-tabled slots. [12,13] In our study, in an attempt to solve the activities, students not only refer to the topic before they attend the lecture but also develop curiosity about the unsolved activities. This sets a stage for the induction of interest in the subject during the lecture. Students find easy to solve activities after the lecture and they get insight into the learning process. Appropriate method for a topic under study should be identified and implemented for transforming passive to active learning. Various studies on student perspectives unveiled that active learning promotes better understanding, retention of the topic, clarifies the doubts better, development of communication skills, and better reproducibility comparable to our findings. [14-18] Unlike our study, many of the educational interventions have compared the innovative method with the traditional method by comparing the pre- and post-test scores. Such comparison cannot empower a particular method as it is the disturbance of monotonous passive learning which encourages engagement of the learner. Evidence supports adoption of active learning strategies to stimulate higher learning and enhance student motivation to learn. 
Such a simple approach can be a powerful tool to foster SDL; it was a source of inspiration to many faculty members to think of novel methods. This is a very effective way to bridge the gap between teaching-learning efforts and also to cover the "must know areas" in physiology. A limitation of the study was that only one faculty was involved in the process due to technical issues. Further study involving faculty perceptions and improvements suggested by students will help teachers become facilitators of learning.
The purpose of the study to foster SDL in students with the use of active learning technique was fulfilled as observed by the positive feedback given by students. Overall, students liked this method as a useful and interesting tool for learning physiology.
We are grateful to the Dean Dr. R. B. Kulkarni and the MEU Coordinator Dr. Y. R. Kadam, Bharati Vidyapeeth Medical College, Sangli for encouraging and supporting the medical education activities. Also, I'm grateful to the mentors of FIME workshop at KEM Hospital, Mumbai, for guiding at all levels from conception of the project to its implementation.
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Meena Parekh, Hemlata Munjappa, Smita Shinde, Surekha Vaidya
Department of Physiology, Bharati Vidyapeeth Deemed University Medical College and Hospital, Sangli, Maharashtra, India
Correspondence to: Meena Parekh, E-mail: email@example.com
Received: December 01, 2017; Accepted: December 20, 2017
How to cite this article: Parekh M, Munjappa H, Shinde S, Vaidya S. Student perceptions on activity-based learning in physiology. Natl J Physiol Pharm Pharmacol 2018;8(4):590-593.
Source of Support: Nil, Conflict of Interest: None declared.
Table 1: Distribution of students in each unit of Likert scale for each item in the questionnaire Item Strongly Disagree (%) disagree(%) I liked the activities 0 1.69 It helped me understand the concepts clearly 0 0 Different types of activities have helped me in retention 0 1.69 of information It will help me in answering SAQ's 0 1.69 It has created interest in the topic 0 3.39 It has evoked inquisitiveness about the topic because of 1.69 3.39 which I have started reading the books It is a waste of time 50.85 44.07 Such activities should be conducted for all topics in 1.69 0 physiology Activities given before the lecture are useful 1.69 6.78 Activities given after the lecture are useful 0 3.39 Both prior and after activities are useful 1.69 1.69 Item Neither agree Agree nor disagree (%) (%) I liked the activities 3.39 64.4 It helped me understand the concepts clearly 6.78 67.8 Different types of activities have helped me in retention 8.47 71.19 of information It will help me in answering SAQ's 5.08 71.19 It has created interest in the topic 11.86 55.93 It has evoked inquisitiveness about the topic because of 18.64 61.01 which I have started reading the books It is a waste of time 5.08 0 Such activities should be conducted for all topics in 16.95 38.98 physiology Activities given before the lecture are useful 6.78 61.02 Activities given after the lecture are useful 8.47 57.63 Both prior and after activities are useful 13.56 55.93 Item Strongly agree (%) I liked the activities 30.5 It helped me understand the concepts clearly 25.42 Different types of activities have helped me in retention 18.64 of information It will help me in answering SAQ's 22.03 It has created interest in the topic 28.81 It has evoked inquisitiveness about the topic because of 15.25 which I have started reading the books It is a waste of time 0 Such activities should be conducted for all topics in 42.37 physiology Activities given before the lecture are useful 23.73 Activities given after the lecture are useful 30.51 Both prior and after activities are useful 27.12 Positive feedback for all items except no. 7-agree to strongly agree, positive feedback item no. 7-disagree to strongly disagree. SAQs: Short answer questions Table 2: It shows the percentage of students giving positive feedback for each item in the questionnaire Items Feedback (%) Positive Negative I liked the activities 94.9 5.08 It helped me understand the concepts clearly 93.2 6.78 Different types of activities have helped me 89.83 10.16 in retention of information It will help me in answering SAQ's 93.2 6.77 It has created interest in the topic 84.74 15.25 It has evoked inquisitiveness about the topic 76.26 23.72 because of which I have started reading the books It is a waste of time 94.92 5.08 Such activities should be conducted for all 81.35 18.64 topics in physiology Activities given before the lecture are useful 84.75 15.25 Activities given after the lecture are useful 88.14 11.86 Both prior and after activities are useful 83.05 16.94 SAQs: Short answer questions
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|Title Annotation:||RESEARCH ARTICLE|
|Author:||Parekh, Meena; Munjappa, Hemlata; Shinde, Smita; Vaidya, Surekha|
|Publication:||National Journal of Physiology, Pharmacy and Pharmacology|
|Date:||Apr 1, 2018|
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