Development and Evaluation of a Web-Based Dermatology Teaching Tool for Preclinical Medical Students

Publication ID Published Volume
10619 August 12, 2017 13

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Albert Einstein College of Medicine


Introduction: There is growing interest in, and emphasis on, electronic teaching tools in medicine. Despite relevant testing on the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE), American medical schools offer limited training in skin disorders. Teaching visual topics like dermatology in classroom formats is challenging. We hypothesized that an electronic module would enhance students’ dermatology competency. Methods: A self-directed, case-based module was created. To test its efficacy, 40 medical students were randomized to have module access (interventional group) or none (conventional group). Learning outcomes were compared using a multiple-choice exam, including questions relevant and irrelevant to the module. Outcomes included proportions of correctly answered module questions (module scores) and nonmodule questions (nonmodule scores). Difference scores were calculated: (module score) − (nonmodule score). Positive values indicated that knowledge of module questions surpassed that of nonmodule questions. If there were a training effect, the interventional group’s difference score should exceed that of the conventional group. Results: The interventional group scored significantly higher than did the conventional group on module questions—75% (interquartile range [IQR], 69-88) versus 50% (IQR, 38-63), p < .001—and nonmodule questions—85% (IQR, 69-92) versus 69% (IQR, 54-77), p = .02. The Hodges-Lehman median difference estimate of the training effect was 13.0 (95% confidence interval, 0.5-25.5). Discussion: This e-module is effective at enhancing students’ competency in dermatology while emphasizing detailed pathophysiology that prepares them for USMLE Step 1. A module-based curriculum may enhance learning in supplement to traditional teaching modalities.


Scaperotti M, Gil N, Downs I, et al. Development and evaluation of a web-based dermatology teaching tool for preclinical medical students. MedEdPORTAL Publications. 2017;13:10619.

Educational Objectives

By the end of this module, learners will be able to:

  1. Recognize the dermatologic and immunologic features of psoriasis, melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, erythema multiforme, and systemic lupus erythematosus (malar rash).
  2. Identify the most appropriate diagnostic approaches used in each disease.
  3. Describe the appropriate first-line management for each included condition.


  • Curriculum, Dermatology, USMLE Step 1, Self-Learning, E-Module, Editor’s Choice


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