Use of e-learning in clinical clerkships: effects on acquisition of dermatological knowledge and learning processes

Frederike Fransen*, Herm Martens, Ivo F. Nagtzaam, Sylvia Heeneman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Objectives: To obtain a deeper understanding of how the e-learning program, Education in Dermatology (ED), affects the acquisition of dermatological knowledge and the underlying learning processes of medical students in their clinical phase. Methods: The study used a mixed method design with a convergent parallel collection of data. Medical students (n=62) from Maastricht University (The Netherlands) were randomized to either a conventional teaching group (control group n=30) or conventional teaching plus the e-learning program (application on smartphone) group (e-learning group n=32). Pre- and post-intervention knowledge test results were analysed using an independent t-test. Individual semi-structured interviews (n=9) were conducted and verbatim-transcribed recordings were analysed using King's template analysis. Results: The e-learning program positively influenced students' level of knowledge and their process of learning. A significant difference was found in the post-test scores for the control group (M=51.4, SD=6.43) and the e-learning group (M=73.09, SD=5.12); t(60)=-14.75, p<0.000). Interview data showed that the e-learning program stimulated students' learning as the application promoted the identification and recognition of skin disorders, the use of references, creation of documents and sharing information with colleagues. Conclusions: This study demonstrated that use of the e-learning program led to a significant improvement in basic dermatological knowledge. The underlying learning processes indicated that e-learning programs in dermatology filled a vital gap in the understanding of clinical reasoning in dermatology. These results might be useful when developing (clinical) teaching formats with a special focus on visual disciplines.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-17
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Medical Education
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jan 2018


  • E-learning
  • mixed methods
  • dermatology
  • learning theory
  • students' perceptions
  • clinical phase

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