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Effecting Curricular Change Through Comprehensive Course Assessment: Using Structure and Process to Change Outcomes

Goldman, Ellen F. EdD; Swayze, Susan S. PhD; Swinehart, Sarah E. MBA; Schroth, W. Scott MD, MPH

Academic Medicine:
doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e318244739c
Medical Education
Abstract

Effective curriculum oversight requires periodic assessment and continuous improvement of individual course offerings as well as their overall integration. The literature indicates that most course review processes do not use the breadth of information available or sufficiently encourage faculty feedback and reflection, limiting the value derived. Suggestions for which data to include in the course evaluations are available in the literature; however, there is little guidance on effective course review structures and processes. In this article, the authors discuss a course review process revised as part of a comprehensive reform of the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences undergraduate medical school curriculum management structure. The process improvements incorporated evaluation practices grounded in the medical and higher education literatures and included changes to the data reviewed as well as the review timing, participants, and structure. The revised process uses a broad array of information, requires significant faculty participation, and uses questioning, writing, and dialogue to encourage faculty reflection and learning. Course directors indicate that the process helps them focus, and the information and the perspectives of others lead to reflection and new ideas. Through the process, course directors have changed course content and teaching methods, improved assessments of learning, and expanded course integration across the curriculum. The procedural and content elements of the process can be easily transferred to other medical schools and are applicable to other curricular reform projects across the continuum of medical education.

Author Information

Dr. Goldman is assistant professor of human and organizational learning, George Washington University Graduate School of Education and Human Development, and director, Master Teacher Leadership Development Program, George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Washington, DC.

Dr. Swayze is assistant professor of education research, George Washington University Graduate School of Education and Human Development, Washington, DC.

Ms. Swinehart is an education consultant. At the time of this process' development, she was a staff member, Office of Medical Education, George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Washington, DC.

Dr. Schroth is associate dean for administration, George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Washington, DC.

Correspondence should be addressed to Dr. Goldman, Graduate School of Education and Human Development, George Washington University, 2134 G Street, NW Room 218, Washington, DC 20052; telephone: (202) 994-1531; fax: (202) 994-4928; e-mail: egoldman@gwu.edu.

First published online January 25, 2012

© 2012 Association of American Medical Colleges