The evaluation of synchronous and asynchronous online learning: student experience, learning outcomes, and cognitive load.

Publication date: Mar 22, 2024

The abrupt onset of the COVID-19 pandemic compelled universities to swiftly establish online teaching and learning environments that were not only immediately deployable but also conducive to high-quality education. This study aimed to compare the effectiveness of the online synchronous and asynchronous teaching formats in the dermatology lecture for undergraduate medical students, including academic performance, self-efficacy, and cognitive load. A total of 170 fourth-year undergraduate medical students attending the dermatology lecture were included. The lecture was delivered using both the synchronous method (live online lecture via Webex meeting) and the asynchronous method (lecture videos shared on YouTube). The students had the freedom to choose their preferred method of attending the online lecture. The study assessed three main aspects: (1) learning outcomes measured through pretest, posttest, and retention test scores; (2) cognitive load experienced by students, including mental load and mental effort measured using eight items; and (3) satisfaction levels with each online teaching format. In this study, 70 students opted for the synchronous online lecture, while 100 students chose the asynchronous online lecture. Both synchronous and asynchronous teaching methods exhibited significant improvements in post and retention test scores compared to the pretest. Satisfaction levels, rated on a scale of 0-5, were generally high for both teaching methods, with no significant differences observed (4. 6 for synchronous, 4. 53 for asynchronous; p =. 350). Regarding cognitive load, the synchronous method showed a significantly lower level than the asynchronous method (p =. 0001). Subgroup analysis revealed no difference in mental effort (p =. 0662), but the level of mental load was lower in the synchronous method (p =. 0005). Both synchronous and asynchronous online teaching methods demonstrated improvements in learning outcomes and high levels of student satisfaction. However, the cognitive load experienced by students was lower in the synchronous setting compared to the asynchronous setting. These findings remind health professions educators that they would consider the students’ cognitive load when designing online curricula.

Open Access PDF

Concepts Keywords
Dermatology Cognitive load
Pretest Medical education
Therapy Online learning
Universities Self-efficacy
Youtube Student satisfaction


Type Source Name
disease MESH COVID-19 pandemic
disease IDO quality
disease VO effectiveness
pathway REACTOME Reproduction
disease MESH emergency
disease VO time
disease VO effective
drug DRUGBANK Tretamine
drug DRUGBANK Spinosad
disease MESH dermatitis
disease MESH atopic dermatitis
disease MESH eczema
disease MESH lichen simplex chronicus
disease MESH prurigo
disease MESH contact dermatitis
disease MESH seborrheic dermatitis

Original Article

(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)