Document Type


Date of Original Version



Pharmacy Practice


Background: Pharmacy students in their first professional year (P1) often struggle to adapt to the demands of the rigorous curriculum. The integrated renal and cardiovascular courses at the University of Rhode Island (URI) facilitate learning of renal and cardiovascular disorders and the medications used to treat them. The courses are challenging but important to the students’ future practice. There have been no studies assessing the impact or usefulness of using online chat rooms to supplement traditional teaching methods for pharmacy students.

Objective: The objective of the online chat room was to provide an additional resource that students could use to clarify course material. We hypothesized that the chat room would serve as a useful supplemental learning tool for pharmacy students.

Method: The online chat room function of the course management system at URI (Sakai) was offered throughout the spring semester to P1 students. During chat room settings, P1 students submitted questions in a real-time list format. The P3 students or professor then responded to the questions and posed questions to the students to encourage discussion. At the end of the semester, the students were asked to fill out a brief, electronic survey via Survey Monkey. The survey asked 12 questions about the chat room using a 5-point Likert scale, including asking if they attended the chat room and, if they did not, the reason(s) why, as well as the impact of the chat room on their learning. The survey was approved by the URI Institutional Review Board.

Results: 63 students responded to the survey (response rate = 53%). Seventy percent attended the live chat and 95% viewed the archived transcript. The majority of students agreed that chat room sessions encouraged faculty-student interaction outside of the classroom, encouraged them to ask questions and helped them learn by asking questions and seeking answers. Students who attended the live session were more likely to agree that the chat room sessions were helpful and encouraged them to stay up to date in their work.

Conclusion: Survey results showed supported the online chat room as a useful adjunct that P1 students can use to enhance their understanding of the renal and cardiovascular course material. Overall, the chat room encouraged students to stay up-to-date in their studying, encouraged student-faculty interaction outside of class, helped the students learn more by asking their own questions, and facilitated their learning. In addition, the chat room clarified material the students did not understand and encouraged them to ask questions about the material. The feedback provided by the students who participated will be used in the future to further improve the chat room.