Measuring the effectiveness of small-group and web-based training methods in teaching clinical communication: A case comparison study

Elpida Artemiou, Cindy L. Adams, Andrea Vallevand, Claudio Violato, Kent G. Hecker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Current teaching approaches in human and veterinary medicine across North America, Europe, and Australia include lectures, group discussions, feedback, role-play, and web-based training. Increasing class sizes, changing learning preferences, and economic and logistical challenges are influencing the design and delivery of communication skills in veterinary undergraduate education. The study's objectives were to (1) assess the effectiveness of small-group and web-based methods for teaching communication skills and (2) identify which training method is more effective in helping students to develop communication skills. At the Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine (RUSVM), 96 students were randomly assigned to one of three groups (control, web, or small-group training) in a pre-intervention and post-intervention group design. An Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) was used to measure communication competence within and across the intervention and control groups. Reliability of the OSCEs was determined by generalizability theory to be 0.65 (pre-intervention OSCE) and 0.70 (post-intervention OSCE). Study results showed that (1) small-group training was the most effective teaching approach in enhancing communication skills and resulted in students scoring significantly higher on the post-intervention OSCE compared to the web-based and control groups, (2) web-based training resulted in significant though considerably smaller improvement in skills than small-group training, and (3) the control group demonstrated the lowest mean difference between the pre-intervention/post- intervention OSCE scores, reinforcing the need to teach communication skills. Furthermore, small-group training had a significant effect in improving skills derived from the initial phase of the consultation and skills related to giving information and planning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)242-251
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of veterinary medical education
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013


  • Calgary-Cambridge Guide
  • Objective Structured Clinical Examination
  • communication skills
  • small-group teaching
  • veterinary clinical communication
  • web-based instruction


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