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The regulation of the glomerular filtration rate (GFR) is a particularly important and challenging concept for students to integrate into a memorable framework for building further knowledge and solving clinical problems. In this study, 76 first-year veterinary students and 19 veterinarians in clinical specialty training (house officers) participated in separate online exercises to evaluate the use of a computer-animated model of GFR regulation (www.aamc.org/mededportal) on learning outcome. Students were randomly allocated to study either the animated model or written materials before completion of a 10-question multiple-choice quiz. House officers completed a 35-question test before and after study of the animated model. Both groups completed a survey about the learning exercise. The ability of the model to enhance learning was demonstrated by a significant improvement (P < 0.001) in the test performance of house officers after studying the model. The model performed similarly to written materials alone in affecting the subsequent quiz performance of the students. The majority of students and house officers agreed or strongly agreed that the animated model was easy to understand, improved their knowledge and appreciation of the importance of GFR regulation, and that they would recommend the model to peers. Most students [63 of 76 students (83%)] responded that they would prefer the use of the animated model alone over the study of written materials but acknowledged that a combination of hardcopy written notes and the animated model would be ideal. A greater applicability of the model to more advanced students and an introduction in a didactic setting before individual study were suggested by the house officers. The results of this study suggest that the animated model is a useful, effective, and well-received tool for learning and creating a visual memory of the regulatory mechanisms of GFR.
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