Impact of interdisciplinary learning on critical thinking using case study method in allied health care graduate students


It remains unclear which classroom experiences, if any, foster critical think ability. We measured the effectiveness of interdisciplinary, case-based learning on the critical thinking ability of graduate students enrolled in allied health care programs. We designed a voluntary classroom experience to examine the effectiveness of case studies used in an interdisciplinary setting to increase critical-thinking ability. Two groups of students were measured for their critical thinking ability using an online assessment both before and after their respective classroom experiences. One group of 14 graduate students from 4 different allied health care programs (interdisciplinary, ID) discussed complex interdisciplinary case studies and answered multiple-choice type questions formed around the cases. The second group was composed of graduate students (n = 28) from a single disciple enrolled in a clinical anatomy course (discipline specific, DS). They discussed complex case studies specific to their discipline and answered multiple-choice questions formed around the cases. There was no overall change in critical-thinking scores from the pre- to post-test in either group (delta scores: ID 1.5 ± 5.3, DS -1.7 ± 5.7). However, ID students scoring below the median on the pretest improved significantly (paired t-test, pre 50.7 ± 3.8, post 54.2 ± 1.7, p = 0.02). The interdisciplinary learning experience improved critical-thinking ability in students with the least proficiency. As case studies have long been used to advance deeper learning, these data provide evidence for a broader impact of cases when used in an interdisciplinary setting, especially for those students coming in with the least ability. ©2011 Association of Schools of Allied Health Professions.


Biomedical Sciences

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Journal of Allied Health