Objective: Drawing upon earlier research that surveyed students’ grasp of subject knowledge after taking either an online or face-to-face EBM course, this paper explores the effectiveness of a Web-based professional continuing education course, compared with an equivalent face-to- face version. The course was designed to teach practicing medical librarians how to participate in and advocate for Evidence Based Medicine at their individual institutions. Methods: Seventy-two practicing librarians, self-selected to participate in either the distance education eight week course or the eight hour face-to-face class. Using a modified version of the Fresno Test of Competence in Evidence-Based Medicine, the authors compared student pre- class, post-class, and six-month post-class assessment scores to assess subject knowledge retention, evaluate student learning, and determine the efficacy of the course delivery methods. Results: When comparing the scores of only those who completed all assessments, the DE students averaged over 10 points higher than the CE group in each test. Based on the raw numbers, it appeared that students in the DE group came into the classroom with a greater knowledge of the subject and retained more knowledge six months after the course had ended. However, after analyzing the data from all participants, the study showed that the differences between the distance education group and face-to-face group were not statistically significant. Conclusions: In this study, the distance education group and face-to-face groups had no difference in level of knowledge retention.


Distance Education, Online Delivery, Comparison, Library Science


Library and Information Science