Schlesinger SL, Heuwieser W, Schüller LK. Comparison of Self-Directed and Instructor-Led Practice Sessions for Teaching Clinical Skills in Food Animal Reproductive Medicine. J Vet Med Educ. 2021 Jun;48(3):310-318

PMID: 32427545


While the use of simulator-based clinical skill training has become increasingly popular in veterinary education in recent years, little research has been done regarding optimal implementation of such tools to maximize student learning in veterinary curricula. The objective of this study was to compare the effects of supervised and unsupervised deliberate practice on clinical skills development in veterinary medicine students. A total of 150 veterinary students took part in instructor-led practice (supervised) or self-directed practice (unsupervised) at a selection of four learning stations in a veterinary skills laboratory. Each learning station consisted of a teaching simulator, materials required to complete the task, and a standard operating procedure detailing how to execute the task. Students used Likert scales to self-evaluate their clinical skills before and after practice sessions, in addition to evaluating their motivation to practice a given task. An objective structured clinical examination (OSCE) was used to compare participants' clinical skills performance between learning stations. We were able to show that practice had a significant positive effect on OSCE scores at three out of six available learning stations. Motivation ratings varied between learning stations and were positively correlated with an increase in self-perceived clinical skills. At an instructor-to-student ratio of approximately 1:8, supervision had no effect on OSCE scores at four out of six learning stations. At the remaining two learning stations, self-directed practice resulted in better learning outcomes than instructor-led practice.