Learning perceptual aspects of diagnosis in medicine via eye movement modeling examples on patient video cases


Complex tasks with a visually rich component, like diagnosing seizures based on patient video cases, not only require the acquisition of conceptual but also of perceptual skills. Medical education has found that besides biomedical knowledge (knowledge of scientific facts) clinical knowledge (actual experience with patients) is crucial. One important aspect of clinical knowledge that medical education has hardly focused on, yet, are perceptual skills, like visually searching, detecting, and interpreting relevant features. Research on instructional design has shown that in a visually rich, but simple classification task perceptual skills could be conveyed by means of showing the eye movements of a didactically behaving expert. The current study applied this method to medical education in a complex task. This was done by example video cases, which were verbally explained by an expert. In addition the experimental groups saw a display of the expert's eye movements recorded, while he performed the task. Results show that blurring non-attended areas of the expert enhances diagnostic performance of epileptic seizures by medical students in contrast to displaying attended areas as a circle and to a control group without attention guidance. These findings show that attention guidance fosters learning of perceptual aspects of clinical knowledge, if implemented in a spotlight manner.

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