STUDENT CONCERNS ABOUT LEARNING THE SCIENCES BASIC TO MEDICINE
Medical Education Development
New York NY 10010
Medical schools ponder the impact their programs have on student learning. This is especially the case during times when the curriculum is undergoing major reforms. Over the last five years The Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education (a 7 year BS/MD degree program in New York City) underwent some major changes in their pre-clerkship training program. This abstract reports on an evaluation project that captured the students’ experiences and concerns related to their goals for studying.
The entire cohort of students who completed the pre-clerkship years in 2008 (N=56) was invited to participate in focus groups to discuss their training experience. 21 students (37.5%) attended 3 focus groups which were run by an external evaluator at off-site locations. All groups were diverse in terms of gender (12 females, 9 males), ethnic background and academic standing (GPAs ranged from 2.90 to 3.49). The 90 minute long sessions were audio-taped and underwent a thematic analysis. The focus group question guide included inquiries about study habits and goals. A series of concerns related to learning basic sciences could be identified.
This qualitative study revealed that student learning is driven and directed by three diverse goals: a) studying for course tests, b) studying for board exams, and c) studying for clerkships and the future practice of medicine. These goals take on different priorities based on the proximity of exams, the perceived relevance of the course material to medical practice, the “importance” of the course within the academic setting, and the level or training or closeness to the clinical years. Students seem deeply concerned about “high yield” studying, and the lack of curricular alignment is viewed as major frustration within the overall training experience.
As a BS/MD program the school may have some unique characteristics, but the concerns students identified are likely to be experienced in other institutions as well. Academic programs should find ways to bring into line their learners goals for studying in order to reduce student stress and maximize the programs educational impact on future performance.
FACULTY PERSPECTIVES REGARDING NONTECHNICAL COMPETENCIES IN VETERINARY MEDICAL EDUCATION
India Lane* & E. Grady Bogue
The University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine
Knoxville TN 37996-4544
The purpose of this study was to explore perceptions of veterinary educators regarding the importance of nontechnical competencies for veterinary graduates and their placement in veterinary medical education.
A survey was administered to veterinary faculty members at five institutions. Participant information included age, gender, terminal degree, rank, discipline, and years teaching experience. Respondents rated the overall importance of 14 competencies on a 1-7 scale. Faculty then indicated where each competency should be taught or cultivated (preveterinary, preclinical, clinical, and/or postgraduate training).
Faculty respondents generally agreed that nontechnical competencies are important for veterinary graduates and should be cultivated across the spectrum of veterinary education. The support was greatest for ethical development, critical thinking, interpersonal and intrapersonal competencies and was less for management and business competencies. Basic science, non-veterinarian and junior faculty tended to more strongly appreciate the importance of nontechnical skills. Large animal faculty and midcareer faculty exhibited a more reserved level of support. Although not statistically significant, women faculty tended to rate the importance of nontechnical competencies higher than male faculty (p = 0.06). Women also were more likely to support the development of nontechnical competencies across the continuum of education. Junior faculty were less likely than others to view clinical education as a primary time for their development.
Faculty characteristics affect perceptions of the importance and place of nontechnical competencies in veterinary education, especially gender, discipline and career stage. Faculty development and curricular discussions should be prepared with these differences in mind.
AT-RISK STUDENTS’ PERCEPTIONS OF USING DEEP BREATHING MEDITATION TO REDUCE ACADEMIC STRESS
Southern Illinois University School of Medicine
Carbondale IL 62901-4323
At-risk students may exhibit symptoms associated with test anxiety that can interfere with academic achievement. Providing them with techniques to alleviate those symptoms may be helpful; yet, few schools provide students regular opportunities to practice stress reduction techniques. This study measures the changes in at-risk students’ perceived test anxiety symptoms, beliefs and Deep Breathing Meditation (DBM) use after participating in six weeks of regular DBM sessions.
Five different groups of at-risk students (N=1 62) participated in this study during the summers of 2004 through 2008. All students were considered educationally disadvantaged. Each year’s group completed a DBM Pretest prior to their first class and a Posttest six weeks later at the conclusion of the semester. The DBM test instruments used a 10-point Likert-type scale to track changes in students’ perceived feelings, beliefs, and DBM use. The incoming groups began two classes with five minutes of DBM for a total of 30 sessions each summer.
Analyses revealed all areas changed significantly during the study period. Students reported perceptions of significantly less test anxiety (p≤ 0.000), nervousness (p≤ 0.000), and self-doubt (p≤ 0.000), and increased concentration (p≤ 0.000), use of DBM during exams (p≤ 0.000), and belief that DBM helped them academically (p≤ 0.000).
Our findings suggest that significant behavioral changes occurred when at-risk students practiced regular, five-minute DBM over a six-week period. Allowing students to practice a strategy to counteract symptoms associated with test anxiety may assist them in abandoning ineffective behaviors and replacing them with an empowering coping technique.
TEACHING BEYOND THE CORE – HOW LONG CAN IT CONTINUE?
Donna Beman*, Joseph Branday & Tomlin Paul
Faculty of Medical Sciences
In 2001 a revised undergraduate medical curriculum was introduced at the University of the West Indies, Mona (Jamaica) campus. This curriculum includes a Special Study Module (SSM) programme for students in the first three years (Stage 1). In SSMs students pursue small course of limited content which delivers material that is in addition to or outside of the core of knowledge required by all students. This paper evaluates the first seven years of the SSM programme and the challenges of maintaining it.
A total of 49 SSMs were reviewed and categorised according to the area of concentration. A focus group involving staff and students was conducted at which participants carried out a SWOT (Strengths-Weaknesses- Opportunities- Threats) analysis of the programme followed by discussion to identify the options for its future.
One-third of the SSMs covered clinical areas while 11.2% addressed the basic sciences. The SWOT analysis revealed a wide range of benefits to participating students and opportunities for curriculum diversification through collaboration with external stakeholders. The main weaknesses that were identified resulted from a lack of resource support and the threat of an expanding core curriculum eroding time for non-core activities.
Special study subjects in the early years of medical training are largely covering non-core topics. Given the student interest and perceived benefits, the maintenance of this programme requires greater buy-in from staff and will depend largely on both increased resource support and allocation of time.
BIOMEDICAL MASTER PROGRAMMES OVERVIEW
M.A. Deken, M. Boekhout, D. Jansen & K. van der Ploeg*
Amsterdam NH 1081 HV
The national biomedical student committee (BMSO) is the consultation body of all biomedical students in the Netherlands. Once a month the students’ participation, curricula and other developments are discussed. All Dutch universities, which provide biomedical programmes, are represented. One of the goals of the BMSO is to provide structured information to (prospective) students of all (bio)medical Bachelor and Master programmes. One of the latest activities of the BMSO is the Biomedical Masters ‘menu card’, a structured overview of all information about the master programs that are in some way linked to the Biomedical Bachelor programs.
The overview of master programmes are grouped per university, but also per scientific field of interest, creating two straightforward. Not only research Masters, but also differentiations to communication, education and management are included. These overviews are made accessible on the Internet, www.bmso.nl.
All universities offer broad programmes, which are presented in different ways and names. There are a lot of similarities but universities also offer special niche programmes. Moreover near all universities offer programmes preparing students for a career outside research. In this overview 32 programmes are included of which it six times concerns the general Biomedical Master. Within these general Masters, there are 46 ‘directions’. All this possibilities are classified in 19 fields of interest.
It also becomes clear that the borders of ‘Biomedical Masters’ are someways hard to define.
With this overview the first step has been made to create a full inventory of the current Biomedical Masters programmes. This overview currently provides one of the best possible overviews for Bachelor students who are interested in biomedical Masters. The BMSO hopes that this overview will help them in this important career decision.
SOURCES OF STUDY ADVICE AND RATINGS OF HELPFULNESS IN FIRST YEAR MEDICAL SCHOOL COURSES
Norma Saks*, Robert Lebeau & Maris Cutting
UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
Piscataway NJ 08854-5635
The purpose of this study was to identify sources of study advice for first year medical school courses, and to determine how helpful students perceive this advice to be.
First year students completed an online survey. They responded to whether study advice was provided to them by course instructors, first year or second year students, or faculty providing academic support (Cognitive Skills Program). Students rated the helpfulness of advice received for specific courses (Anatomy, Biochemistry, and Cellular/Genetic Mechanisms) on a 5-point scale (1 = always helpful…5 = never helpful.) Students were also asked to rate their learning experience in each course and comments were solicited.
The amount of advice students reported receiving from the different sources varied by course. The highest percent of advice received overall for both Biochemistry and Anatomy was from second year students. Mean ratings of helpfulness ranged from a high of 2.03 (advice from faculty for anatomy) to a low of 2.64 (advice from first year classmates for anatomy.) Students also evaluated their learning experience in Anatomy most positively. Comments concerning most helpful advice were categorized in themes of time/effort management, general and specific study strategies, and how to use course resources.
Study advice is provided from many different sources during the first year of medical school. Anatomy lab may be most conducive for faculty to provide study advice. This advice is positively related with student evaluation of their learning experience. Student comments indicated the usefulness of advice about both how to study and what to study.
THE IMPACT OF COUNSELING SYSTEM ON THE ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE AND THE EMOTIONAL WELL-BEING OF FIRST YEAR MEDICAL STUDENTS
Ferhan Sagin*, Benal Inceer & Eser Y. Sozmen
Ege University Medical Faculty
University education requires an adaptation period for new students. Family & peer relationships problems, accommodation & financial issues, emotional & physical problems, adjustment to a new environment account for some of the elements of this period. We implemented a Counseling System (CS) to address these issues to help students to succeed academically and lead a satisfying social life. This study is conducted to investigate the impact of CS on the academic performance & emotional well-being of the 1st year medical students.
MATERIALS & METHODS
Upon admission, 120 students sought an academic counselor. The Counselor Committee (n=40) of voluntary faculty members was founded upon the request of Ege Univ. Med. Sch. Association of Social Support. The Committee established the guidelines for counseling and defined the common roles of the counselors. Counselors were further prepared for social and personal counseling by the guidance of a Clinical Psychologist. It was made clear that they are not expected to solve the problems but provide independent & objective guidance and assistance to students for proper solutions. Data on counselor-student contact frequency and content was obtained from a questionnaire applied to counselors. Social adaptation of students were evaluated according to data from “Personal Acceptance Form” (PAF) in which students self-rated how good they were in social life and well-being. Databases of participants (admission scores data; 3 in-term quiz grades; end-block final exam grades; PAF scores) were used to evaluate the impact of the new system.
Students who received counseling had statistically insignificant but higher in-term quiz (74,7±12,6 vs 72,5±13,3, 57,1±12,8 vs. 56,2±13,4, 61,4±14,8 vs. 59,8±13,3) and end block final exam grades (53,9±12,7 vs 52,9±11,9) compared to students without counselors. This difference was best observed in the 1st quiz applied in the 4th week of the semester. PAF scores are currently being analyzed in detail and will be presented at the meeting.
Although a statistically significant relationship between academic performance and counseling was not found, first year medical students benefited from counseling in their overall social adaptation.