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Acad Med. 1999 Dec;74(12):1316-9.

The use of questionnaires to assess achievement of course goals in medical students' longitudinal community-based clinical experiences.

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  • 1Department of Community Health and Social Medicine, NY 10031, USA.



To examine the usefulness of questionnaires for assessing achievement of course goals in medical students' longitudinal community-based clinical experiences.


In 1997, the authors surveyed 114 first-year students and their preceptors in a longitudinal community-based program at The Joan and Sanford I. Weill Medical College of Cornell University. The questionnaire used a Likert scale to assess students' and preceptors' pre-course expectations for achieving specific course goals and their post-course perceptions of having met those goals. The students also rated global learning and satisfaction during each office preceptor session, and faculty assessed the students' physical examination skills at the end of the course.


For all goals assessed, the preceptors scored their students' achievement of course goals significantly higher than did the students themselves (p < .01). The students invariably scored their post-course perceptions of having achieved the goals lower than they did their pre-course expectations (p < .001). Before the course, the preceptors were confident in their ability to teach the curricular material; this confidence remained after the course. Global learning and satisfaction scores were high and all students performed satisfactorily in the demonstration examination.


Students and preceptors may not agree on students' achievement of course goals. Furthermore, despite students' high ratings of global satisfaction and learning, and despite their satisfactory performance of physical examination skills, their ratings of post-course performance may be affected by pre-course expectations. The authors suggest that questionnaires assessing students' and preceptors' perceptions of students' achievement of specific goals should be independently verified before making decisions to modify objectives and activities in these kinds of courses.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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