Teaching Development Grants
Completed TDG Projects

Diverse Learning Experience

Can Evidence Based Practice in Ophthalmology be Taught Using Role Play?


Aim: To determine if role playing can be taught in an ophthalmology curriculum to fourth year medical students.

Method: The teaching was based on 2 scenarios: obtaining consent from patients for cataract surgery and for squint surgery. Students were divided into two categories: problem-based learning (PBL) and the role-playing (RP). The learning outcomes were measured against the performance of medical officers in ophthalmology.

Results: 13 groups of fourth year medical students participated in this study. Each group consisted of 4 to 5 students. In general, students performed better under RP in both scenarios. Significant difference was only noted in the cataract scenario (PBL: 41.7±15.8, RP: 69.9±11.4; p<0.001) but not the squinting child scenario (PBL: 57.5±13.0, RP: 63.7±6.7; p=0.279). When RP was used as the teaching mode, students scored similarly in both scenarios (squinting child: 63.7±6.7, cataract: 69.9±11.4; p=0.143). However, significant difference was found between the two scenarios when PBL was used (p=0.041). Students achieved better in the scenario of squinting child (57.5±13.0) than that of cataract (41.7±15.8). The order of teaching mode (whether students had PBL or RP first) did not affect the outcome. There was no evidence to show that RP had any carryover effect on PBL (p=0.964) or vice versa (p=0.267).

Conclusion: The study showed that role playing was more effective in achieving the learning outcomes.

Principal Investigator

Professor D.S.H. Wong, Eye Institute, Li Ka Shing Faculty of MedicineContact

Project level

Faculty-level project

Project Completion

September 2009


This pilot study generated data that informed the power calculations for a definite cross-over study to demonstrate whether role playing gives any enhancement to standard problem based learning. It also allows us to evaluate if role play fulfils the role of engendering empathy amongst students. Based on the project results, role playing could enhance the effectiveness in delivering the curriculum and stimulates discussion among the students. Role playing has been incorporated into the modules to make the teaching more interactive.