Computer‐based simulations of undergraduate experiments in pharmacology and physiology may offer a cost‐effective alternative to the traditional live laboratory for some students, for whom laboratory skills are less important. Here we describe a study which compares two approaches to teaching preclinical medical students the pharmacology of colonic motility. Half of one cohort received a tutored live demonstration of an isolated tissue laboratory, while the other half used a computer simulation program covering the same subject. The study demonstrated that student learning was comparable for both groups, that many students found the computer simulation an acceptable alternative and that the latter required significantly less resource
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