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Original Research

Effectiveness of an active learning strategy using a simple interactive computer-based application in teaching the concept of membrane potential to medical undergraduates

S Snekalatha.


Background: Teaching resting membrane potential (RMP) to medical students is challenging. Various teaching-learning methods have been used earlier by medical teachers to make this concept easier for students to learn.

Aim and Objective: This study aims to evaluate the effectiveness of an active learning session using computer-based application in improving the understanding of the concept of generation of RMP, in medical undergraduates.

Materials and Methods: The 1st year medical undergraduates (n = 109) attending physiology classes in ESIC Medical College took part in the session. The students were given scenarios with different concentration of ions and permeabilities and were asked to derive the RMP with the help of a computer-based application. The application calculates the membrane potential using modified Goldman equation when the concentrations and relative permeabilities of ions are given as input using a graphical user interface. The students’ understanding of the concept was assessed before and after the session by pre- and post-test questionnaire. Difference in pre- and post-test scores was analyzed using paired t-test. Feedback was obtained after the session.

Results: There was a significant increase in the post-test scores when compared to the pre-test scores (P < 0.001). More than 90% of students who took part in the session felt that the session had helped them in understanding the concept well, and they wished to have more such active learning sessions in the future.

Conclusion: The study results suggest that the active learning session on generation of membrane potential using a computer-based application, improved the students’ understanding on the concept, and it was well appreciated by the students.

Key words: Membrane Potential; Active Learning; Goldman Equation; Computer Application

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