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Enhancing Evaluation in an Undergraduate Medical Education Program

Gibson, Kathryn A. BMBCh, PhD; Boyle, Patrick MEd; Black, Deborah A. PhD; Cunningham, Margaret MSW; Grimm, Michael C. MBBS, PhD; McNeil, H Patrick MBBS, PhD

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e31817eb8ab
Program Evaluation

Approaches to evaluation of medical student teaching programs have historically incorporated a range of methods and have had variable effectiveness. Such approaches are rarely comprehensive, typically evaluating only a component rather than the whole program, and are often episodic rather than continuous. There are growing pressures for significant improvement in academic program evaluation. The authors describe an initiative that arose after a radical reorganization of the undergraduate medical education program at the University of New South Wales in part in response to feedback from the accrediting authority. The aim was to design a comprehensive, multicomponent, program-wide evaluation and improvement system. The framework envisages the quality of the program as comprising four main aspects: curriculum and resources; staff and teaching; student experience; and student and graduate outcomes. Key principles of the adopted approach include the views that both student and staff experiences provide valuable information; that measurement of student and graduate outcomes are needed; that an emphasis on action after evaluation is critical (closing the loop); that the strategies and processes need to be continual rather than episodic; and that evaluation should be used to recognize, report on, and reward excellence in teaching. In addition, an important philosophy adopted was that teachers, course coordinators, and administrators should undertake evaluation and improvement activities as an inherent part of teaching, rather than viewing evaluation as something that is externally managed. Examples of the strategy in action, which provide initial evidence of validation for this approach, are described.

Dr. Gibson is director of rheumatology, South Western Sydney Clinical School, Liverpool Hospital, and a member of the Program Evaluation and Improvement Group in the Faculty of Medicine, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.

Mr. Boyle is a visiting fellow and a member of the Program Evaluation and Improvement Group in the Faculty of Medicine, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.

Dr. Black is associate professor, School of Public Health and Community Medicine and a member of the Program Evaluation and Improvement Group in the Faculty of Medicine, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.

Ms. Cunningham is former senior project officer and a member of the Program Evaluation and Improvement Group in the Faculty of Medicine, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.

Dr. Grimm is associate professor, St George Clinical School, and a member of the Program Evaluation and Improvement Group in the Faculty of Medicine, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.

Dr. McNeil is professor of rheumatology, South Western Sydney Clinical School, former associate dean of medical education, and a member of the Program Evaluation and Improvement Group in the Faculty of Medicine, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.

Please see the end of this article for information about the authors.

Correspondence should be addressed to Dr. Gibson, Department of Rheumatology, Liverpool Hospital, Locked Bag 7103, Liverpool BC, NSW, 1871, Australia; telephone: +61-2-9828-4088; fax: +61-2-9828-3561; e-mail: (kathy.gibson@sswahs.nsw.gov.au).

© 2008 Association of American Medical Colleges