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Developing Effective Web-Based Regional Anesthesia Education: A Randomized Study Evaluating Case-Based Versus Non-Case-Based Module Design
  1. Sandra L. Kopp, MD and
  2. Hugh M. Smith, MD, PhD
  1. From the Department of Anesthesiology, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, MN.
  1. Address correspondence to: Sandra L. Kopp, MD, Department of Anesthesiology, Mayo Clinic, 200 First St, SW, Rochester, MN 55905 (e-mail: kopp.sandra{at}


Background and Objectives: Little is known about the use of Web-based education in regional anesthesia training. Benefits of Web-based education include the ability to standardize learning material quality and content, build appropriate learning progressions, use interactive multimedia technologies, and individualize delivery of course materials. The goals of this investigation were (1) to determine whether module design influences regional anesthesia knowledge acquisition, (2) to characterize learner preference patterns among anesthesia residents, and (3) to determine whether learner preferences play a role in knowledge acquisition. Direct comparison of knowledge assessments, learning styles, and learner preferences will be made between an interactive case-based and a traditional textbook-style module design.

Methods: Forty-three Mayo Clinic anesthesiology residents completed 2 online modules, a knowledge pretest, posttest, an Index of Learning Styles assessment, and a participant satisfaction survey. Interscalene and lumbar plexus regional techniques were selected as the learning content for 4 Web modules constructed using the Blackboard Vista coursework application. One traditional textbook-style module and 1 interactive case-based module were designed for each of the interscalene and lumbar plexus techniques.

Results: Participants scored higher on the postmodule knowledge assessment for both of the interscalene and lumbar plexus modules. Postmodule knowledge performance scores were independent of both module design (interactive case-based versus traditional textbook style) and learning style preferences. However, nearly all participants reported a preference for Web-based learning and believe that it should be used in anesthesia resident education. Participants did not feel that Web-base learning should replace the current lecture-based curriculum.

Conclusions: All residents scored higher on the postmodule knowledge assessment, but this improvement was independent of the module design and individual learning styles. Although residents believe that online learning should be used in anesthesia training, the results of this study do not demonstrate improved learning or justify the time and expense of developing complex case-based training modules. While there may be practical benefits of Web-based education, educators in regional anesthesia should be cautious about developing curricula based on learner preference data.

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  • Support for this study was provided through a grant from the Mayo Clinic Center for Translational Science Activities, Rochester, Minn.

  • The authors have no conflicts of interest to report.