Simulation-Based Virtual Learning Environment in Medical Genetics Counseling: An Example of Bridging the Gap Between Theory and Practice in Medical Education

Study evaluates the effects of a virtual science simulation on students' understanding of everyday clinical practice.  


Makransky, G., Bonde, M. T., Wulff, J. S., Wandall, J., Hood, M., Creed, P. A., ... & Nørremølle, A. (2016). Simulation-based virtual learning environment in medical genetics counseling: an example of bridging the gap between theory and practice in medical education. BMC medical education, 16(1), 1-9.


Simulation-based learning environments are designed to improve the quality of medical education by allowing students to interact with patients, diagnostic laboratory procedures, and patient data in a virtual environment. However, few studies have evaluated whether simulation-based learning environments increase students’ knowledge, intrinsic motivation, and self-efficacy, and help them generalize from laboratory analyses to clinical practice and health decision-making.


Knowledge (Cohen’s d = 0.73), intrinsic motivation (d = 0.24), and self-efficacy (d = 0.46) significantly increased from the pre- to post-test. Low-knowledge students showed the greatest increases in knowledge (d = 3.35) and self-efficacy (d = 0.61), but a non-significant increase in intrinsic motivation (d = 0.22). The medium and high-knowledge students showed significant increases in knowledge (d = 1.45 and 0.36, respectively), motivation (d = 0.22 and 0.31), and self-efficacy (d = 0.36 and 0.52, respectively). Additionally, 90% of students reported a greater understanding of medical genetics, 82% thought that medical genetics was more interesting, 93% indicated that they were more interested and motivated and had gained confidence by having experienced working on a case story that resembled the real working situation of a doctor, and 78% indicated that they would feel more confident counseling a patient after the simulation.

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