Friederichs, H., Marschall, B. & Weissenstein, A.
Context: Deficits in basic skill performance and long-term skill retention among medical students and novice doctors are a persistent problem. This controlled study tested whether the addition of a mastery learning component to simulation-based teaching is associated with long-term retention and performance of peripheral venous catheter insertion.
Methods: Fourth-year medical students were assigned to receive either the control (simulation without mastery learning, n = 131) or the intervention (simulation + mastery learning, n = 133) instruction in peripheral venous catheter insertion. Performance was assessed at one year post-instruction. Eighty-four students from the control group and 71 from the intervention group participated in the assessment.
Results: Students who received the mastery learning instruction achieved higher overall test scores than did controls (median mastery learning score: 20.0, IQR 2.0; median control score 19.0, IQR 3.0; Mann–Whitney U test, p < 0.001, effect size d = 0.82). Pass rates also differed significantly between the groups, with 74.5% (n = 53) of the intervention group passing compared with 33% (n = 28) of the control group (p < 0.001).
Conclusions: Mastery learning is an effective means of teaching practical skills to medical students, and is associated with higher scores at a 1-year follow up.