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J Med Libr Assoc. 2002 Apr;90(2):202-9.

Using a decade of data on medical student computer literacy for strategic planning.

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  • 1Computer Based Instruction Lab, Office of Faculty and Instructional Development, School of Medicine, Medical College of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University Richmond 23298, USA.



From 1991 through 2000, incoming medical students (M-Is) at the School of Medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University have been surveyed with a written questionnaire on their computer literacy. The survey's purpose is to learn the students' levels of knowledge, skill, and experience with computer technology to guide instructional services and facilities.


The questionnaire was administered during M-I orientation or mailed to students' homes after matriculation. It evolved from sixteen questions in 1991 to twenty-three questions in 2000, with fifteen questions common to all.


The average survey response rate was 81% from an average of 177 students. Six major changes were introduced based on information collected from the surveys and advances in technology: production of CD-ROMs distributed to students containing required computer-based instructional programs, delivery of evaluation instruments to students via the Internet, modification of the lab to a mostly PC-based environment, development of an electronic curriculum Website, development of computerized examinations for medical students to prepare them for the computerized national board examinations, and initiation of a personal digital assistant (PDA) project for students to evaluate PDAs' usefulness in clinical settings.


The computer literacy survey provides a snapshot of students' past and present use of technology and guidance for the development of services and facilities.

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