The authors recount medical educators' calls in the 1980s to reform general professional medical education by supplementing the standard lecture-lab biomedical curriculum with new biopsychosocial pedagogy and emphases. They then report selected medical students' evaluations of corresponding curriculum reform efforts that were in place by 1990 at eight U.S. and two Canadian medical schools known for being innovators. From interviews conducted in 1992-93 with a group of three to nine medical students at each school, the authors report two findings. First, the students' positive evaluations converged: at all ten schools they invariably appreciated curriculum reform efforts of any sort that encouraged individuation, connection, and diversity. Second, the students' negative evaluations diverged: specifically, those enrolled at the smaller schools with more distinctly teaching-service missions, schools where innovation was more wholesale, even extending across the entire curriculum, objected to curricula that provide too much in the way of new pedagogy and emphases and too little standard instruction; conversely, those enrolled at the larger schools with more comprehensive teaching-research-service missions, schools where innovation must be more piecemeal, often course by course, objected to curricula that provided too little in the way of new pedagogy and emphases and too much standard instruction. Suggesting that the smaller schools studied may be over-supplementing--and the larger schools under-supplementing--standard biomedical with new biopsychosocial pedagogy and emphases, the authors make two recommendations: first, that medical educators at schools of every size and sort contemplating curriculum reform of any scope recognize that medical students invariably appreciate educational opportunities for individuation, connection, and diversity; second, that the same educators, but especially those at the smaller teaching-service medical schools considering more wholesale innovation, recognize that medical students must soon compete for residencies and posts in a rapidly changing health care environment and thus want effective instruction per se, whether it be delivered by a lecturer or a tutor, in class or in tutorial, on a ward or in a clinic. That would be the meaning, they conclude, of student-centered learning, however it were tailored.
(C) 1998 Association of American Medical Colleges