, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp 123-143

The Effects of Modeling on Learning a Simple Surgical Procedure: See One, Do One or See Many, Do One?

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The effect of modeling a simple surgical task on the subsequent performance of pre-clinical medical students was investigated. Groups of students read a verbal description of the excision of a skin lesion and closure of the resulting wound. Subsequently, groups watched zero, one, or four videotapes in which expert surgeons demonstrated the task. Finally, students had to perform the task themselves four times. During the performances, students were rated by operating room nurses using a checklist and a global rating scale of surgical performance. Time to perform the task was also recorded. In general, the results showed significant effects of experimental condition and trial number: Subjects who watched either one or four models demonstrated similar performance and performed better than subjects who did not watch any model. Later trials showed better accomplishments than earlier trials, both in terms of the quality of the surgery and speed. For some measures, significant interaction effects were found, suggesting that the advantages of watching a model are reinforced, rather than weakened, by practical experience with the task. The results are discussed with respect to the literature on modeling of motor skill tasks and the practical implications for surgical education.

This revised version was published online in June 2006 with corrections to the Cover Date.