Applying research-based learning in medical education through the route of special study modules: Notes from the UK

23 Nov 2016

Involvement in research has largely been the privileged domain of academics and postgraduate students ? with few examples in the literature of undergraduate students? engagement in research. In the UK, however, Special Study Modules (SSMs) feature prominently in undergraduate medical programmes. This is in response to the requirements laid down by the General Medical Council, which stated that medical students need to be trained in the methodology of research. The purpose of this article is to describe and discuss the contextualization of research-based learning through Special Study Modules in the undergraduate medical programme at a University in the UK. Students were given support through: 1) Training and development in research methodology; 2) formative feedback on their research proposals; and 3) supervision of their research projects. The research output was a poster presentation, which constituted the summative assessment. Students not only acquired knowledge and skills, but were also responsible for producing knowledge through research-based learning. The article concludes by describing the challenges and merits of applying research-based learning through the route of SSMs. Although the method for research-based learning discussed in this article is located in medical education and in the form of SSMs, it can be applied in any other discipline. Key words: Research-based learning, Special Study Modules, medical education, generic skills, problem-solving, assessment rubric.