Use of case-based or hands-on laboratory exercises with physiology lectures improves knowledge retention, but veterinary medicine students prefer case-based activities

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2 Scopus citations


Didactic lectures are prevalent in physiology courses within veterinary medicine programs, but more active learning methods have also been utilized. Our goal was to identify the most appropriate learning method to augment the lecture component of our physiology course. We hypothesized that case-based learning would be well received by students and would be more effective at helping them learn physiological concepts compared with more traditional laboratory exercises. In this study, approximately one-half of the laboratory sessions for the two-semester course were dedicated to traditional hands-on laboratory exercises, whereas the remaining one-half of the sessions were dedicated to case-based exercises. The lecture portion of the course was not altered. Student attitudes were evaluated after each session and at the end of each semester via quantitative and qualitative survey questions. Student performance was evaluated using section exams and end-of-semester posttests. The vast majority of survey responses received were positive for both cased-based activities and traditional hands-on laboratories. In addition, participation in both types of active learning activities, but not lecture, was associated with retention of conceptual knowledge based on student performance between the section exams and posttests (P < 0.002). These results indicate that both case-based learning and laboratory exercises are beneficial learning activities to incorporate into a lecture-based physiology course. However, positive survey responses were significantly greater following case-based activities vs. traditional hands-on laboratories, and only participation in case-based activities resulted in greater student performance on the posttest (P < 0.04). Therefore, case-based activities may be the preferred supplemental learning activity for veterinary medical physiology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)182-191
Number of pages10
JournalAdvances in Physiology Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2018



  • Active learning
  • Case based
  • Group learning
  • Laboratories
  • Veterinary physiology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology

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