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Second-year medical students at the Nelson R. Mandela School of Medicine (Durban, South Africa) were given a brief to prepare oral presentations on topics related to disorders of the gastrointestinal tract and endocrine system in the form of "patient-doctor" role play and to submit written documents about their topics. This initiative was introduced to assist medical students in their application and understanding of physiology to clinical situations. The aims of the student presentations were to improve the understanding of the physiological basis of diseases; promote independent research, active, and group-based learning; encourage social interactions; and develop presentation and peer review skills. Students rose to the challenge, producing a variety of presentations reflecting a wealth of creativity, humour, sensitivity to local cultural issues, and analytic thinking skills. The quality of the supporting posters and computer-generated slides was outstanding. Numerous "fun" prizes for specific individual and group performances were given based on peer and staff evaluations. This exercise ran over a 5-yr period before the introduction of a problem-based learning medical curriculum. Student feedback obtained over these years is reported here. Students were asked to complete semistructured questionnaires, which elicited feedback on various aspects of the learning exercise, including whether it should be continued and how it could be improved upon, especially if they were in groups that did not function well. The feedback obtained revealed that most students perceived the presentations to be fun, informative, creative/innovative, and, most importantly, beneficial to their learning. The majority of students felt that this exercise improved their understanding of pathophysiology, taught them to research independently, and encouraged better class interactions and group learning.
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