Swarnalakshmi.M.R, M.Optom

Assistant Professor, Avinashilingam Institute for Home Science and Higher Education for Women, Coimbatore, India


Important competencies in any healthcare practice are the ability to think critically and work effectively. Students need to learn and apply critical thinking skills in their field. So, the ideal strategy for teaching these competences would be evidence-based practice. (1)

Evidence-based practice (EBP) involves making healthcare decisions based on the most recent research in conjunction with the patient and with the help of the practitioner’s experience. The ”best” evidence is the most reliable and valid, and it can be obtained from a variety of sources, including critical summaries, evidence-based synopses, and systematic
reviews of high-level, high-quality research, such as randomised controlled trials, to less reliable research, such as individual case reports and expert opinions.

EBP involves five steps: ask a question, searching for evidence, critically appraising evidence, making decisions, and evaluating outcomes. This procedure is known as the 5 A’s (”Ask,” ”Acquire,” ”Appraise,” ”Apply,” and ”Audit”). Evidence-based practice is becoming more widely accepted in allied health professions including optometry. Evidence-based practice is not possible unless practitioners are appropriately trained and know how to practise in this manner. These skills need to be taught in undergraduate and continuing optometry education, acquired by students,
practitioners and probably sustained throughout practice.

Lecture-based learning (LBL) has traditionally been the primary teaching modality in medical and optometry education. LBL is a teacher-centred approach that is based on the passive transfer of knowledge from teacher to pupils. The teacher explains the content to pupils who seek to grasp the teacher’s scientific point of view. Students lose focus rapidly in this method since such learning strategies are quite didactic. The efficacy of traditional lecture-based teaching has been put into question, leading a search for alternate teaching approaches.

Table 1: Alternative teaching methods for Optometry students (2)

Learning methods Definition Benefits
Evidence based medicine (EBM) Learn, comprehend, and appraise medical literature
  • Analytical ability and decision-making capacity
  • Increases the ability for logical and critical thinking
Case based learning (CBL) (Figure 1) Clinical cases implemented in traditional lectures
  • Promotes active learning
  • Peer interaction
  • Improve critical analysis
Problem based learning (PBL) Combines complementary educational principles in the form of a clinical problem
  • Self-directed learning
  • Higher-order cognitive processes
  • Improve diagnostic reasoning skills
  • Develop clinical reasoning skills, use time efficiently, and retain clinical knowledge
E-Learning (Social media and video lectures) E.g.: YouTube, Online Blogs etc..
  • Used for practical learning of clinical procedures
  • Demonstrations of anatomical dissections etc..
Peer assisted learning Development of knowledge-based skill through active help and support of equals
  • Enhance their knowledge and understanding
  • Providing feedback to peers
  • Improve cognitive and non-cognitive skills
Observational learning Learning through demonstration
  • Enhance learning
  • Improve Motor skills
Flipped classroom (Figure 2) online and/or offline instructional content outside the traditional classroom setting
  • Promotes self-directed learning
  • Improves student perception, learning, critical thinking skills, and motivation to the
Team-based learning (Figure 3) Student- centred learning
  • Increasing communication skills
  • Teamwork strategies in the student groups
  • Find solutions, make decisions as a team
  • Creates concept mapping and seeds deep learning

Figure 1: Case based learning
Image courtesy: https://cdn.serc.carleton.edu/images/introgeo/icbl/doing/case based learning.jpg

Figure 2: Flipped classroom
Image courtesy: https://teach.ufl.edu/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/FlippedClassroom-300×214.jpg

Figure 3: Team based learning
Image courtesy: https://www.rsm.ac.uk/media/5475381/vaq54-web-header/team based learning

Catherine et al.(4) study used a modified EBPAS (Evidence-based practice attitude scale) questionnaire for optometrists. The study goal is to generate discussion on teaching methodologies that could be utilised to teach EBP in optometry.

According to Katherine et al.(5) study, they used Likert-scale or open-text survey questions to address teaching EBP. The questions sought demographic information, teaching, or learning techniques and assessment, and institutional characteristics from respondents. They used a variety of teaching methods, including individualised instruction, print or electronic tutorials, handouts, and guides, small group case-based learning, and live demonstrations of tools, resources, print or online information modules, exercise sheets, or collections of resources
centred on a specific topic, as well as practical sessions like hands-on computer lab exercises. They also used various teaching aids and tools (web-based tools) and assessment strategies (EBP worksheets, critical appraisal exercises, and case reports).


This blog discusses evidence-based learning and teaching techniques in Optometry. Evidence-based learning assists students in effectively understanding, forming interpretations, developing, and evaluating hypotheses, thinking critically and creatively. It demonstrates learners how to solve challenges and barriers, as well as how to communicate effectively through writing and discussion.



  1. Hrynchak, P. K., & Spafford, M. M. (2015). Optometry Students’ Attitudes about Team-Based Learning. Optometric Education, 40(2).
  2. Challa, K. T., Sayed, A., & Acharya, Y. (2021). Modern techniques of teaching and learning in medical education: a descriptive literature review. MedEdPublish, 10, 18.
  3. Mishra4Ritesh, A. A. R. T. S., & Goswami, K. C. (2020). Teaching and Learning Style in Indian Optometry Colleges.
  4. Suttle, C. M., Challinor, K. L., Thompson, R. E., Pesudovs, K., Togher, L., Chiavaroli, N., … & Jalbert, I. (2015). Attitudes and barriers to evidence-based practice in optometry educators. Optometry and Vision Science, 92(4), 514-523.
  5. MacDonald, K. A., Hrynchak, P. K., & Spafford, M. M. (2014). Evidence-based practice instruction by faculty members and librarians in North American optometry and ophthalmology programs. Journal of the Medical Library Association: JMLA, 102(3), 210.