More emphasis is being placed on students as independent learners with teachers acting as facilitators. It has been argued that student-centred learning can be supported usefully by study guides. This paper supports previous claims as to the value of study guides as perceived by students. But what should study guides look like? A total of 151 second-year medical students at the University of Dundee were given three versions of a study guide covering the topic of hypertension, each incorporating a different educational approach but with the same content. A timetable-based version of the guide focused on the students' day-to-day timetable and related the learning outcomes to each of the scheduled learning opportunities. A problem-based version of the guide introduced a clinical problem and encouraged the students to think of the learning outcome for the module as they related to the problem. Thirdly, an outcome-based version was structured round the 12 key areas of the learning outcomes. The timetable-based guide was preferred by the majority of students, although some preferred the problem-based guide and others the outcome-based guide. This may in part be due to students' lack of familiarity with a problem-based and outcome-based approach. It may also relate to what is seen as a key function of a study guide: to lead the student through the day-to-day learning experiences in a course and to introduce a student to a course or a topic and provide an overview of what is to be achieved in their studies of it.
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