Fam Med. 2022 Jun;54(6):471-476. doi: 10.22454/FamMed.2022.319716.
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Medical educators and researchers have increasingly sought to embed online educational modalities into graduate medical education, albeit with limited empirical evidence of how trainees perceive the value and experience of online learning in this context. The purpose of this study was to explore the experiences of hybrid learning in a graduate research methods course in a family medicine and primary care research graduate program.
METHODS: This qualitative description study recruited 28 graduate students during the fall 2016 academic term. Data sources included qualitative group discussions and a 76-item online survey collected between March and September 2017. We used thematic analysis and descriptive statistics to analyze each data set.
RESULTS: Nine students took part in three group discussions, and completed an online survey. While students reported positive learning experiences overall, those attending virtually struggled with the synchronous elements of the hybrid model. Virtual students reported developing research skills not offered through courses at their home institution, and students attending the course in person benefited from the diverse perspectives of distance learners. All stressed the need to foster a sense of community.
CONCLUSIONS: Quality delivery of online graduate education in family medicine research requires optimizing social exchanges among virtual and in-person learners, ensuring equitable engagement among all students, and leveraging the unique tools afforded by online platforms to create a shared sense of a learning community.