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New study supports the use of digital learning resource CAPSULE in undergraduate medical education


A new cross-sectional study has found positive early evidence to support the use of the mobile learning application CAPSULE in undergraduate medical education. CAPSULE is a quiz-based learning resource designed to support undergraduate medical student learning. The study’s findings suggest that students who completed more cases scored higher marks overall and students with a better score in the app were part of a stronger decile within their cohort.

The study used the anonymised data of students who had access to CAPSULE in their final two years of study at Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS), and found that greater app usage was linked with performing better in the app itself and was further associated with being part of a stronger decile rank.

Uncovering the relationship between the app’s usage and students’ decile ranking is significant as it suggests that medical schools could provide greater support to students who self-identify as scoring poorly in the app in a specific subject or specialty. Whilst further investigation would be required to determine whether CAPSULE has improved exam performance, analysis of the data suggests the popular app is of benefit to medical students. With the mean number of cases completed per student being 235, this is a resource into which students are investing a substantial quantity of their time which is seemingly paying off.

Launched by BSMS and Ocasta in 2016, the app received overwhelmingly positive feedback and formed a significant complement to clinical placements. The content in CAPSULE has been built up by BSMS over the past 12 years and has benefited from a rolling process of core review, case editing and selective case additions. After taking a quiz, students receive detailed feedback to maximise their learning, while the reporting system provides the medical school with insight into how the cases are being used.

Since the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic, the resource has been rolled out for use in all UK medical schools, following investment by the Medical Schools Council. The latest version of the platform has been newly edited and tagged to the General Medical Council’s Medical Licensing Assessment content map and is supporting medical students in learning across all specialties. There are currently 27,000 students and 2000 members of staff set up on CAPSULE across 37 UK medical schools. Students active on CAPSULE are completing on average almost 20 cases a week at present, a high level given the early stage of the academic year.

The study’s lead author Dr Jonathan Sadler, from BSMS, said:

“Our study demonstrates that CAPSULE can really help students to tailor their own revision, focusing on areas in which they might be weaker and improving their outcomes. We are delighted that it has been shared widely among other medical schools through the Covid-19 pandemic, and believe it can help students throughout the UK and beyond in their learning and revision for a future career in medicine.”

Click here to access the study.

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