Effect of curriculum changes to enhance generic skills proficiency of 1st-year medical students

Debbie Murdoch-Eaton, Alwyn Louw, Juanita Bezuidenhout


Background. Curriculum review is a dynamic, iterative process, and the effect of change may not always be wholly predictable. At Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa revision of the MB,ChB curriculum was undertaken to meet enhanced and changing educational and medical practice, and to provide opportunities to enhance optimal generic skills underpinning effective learning, implemented in 2008.
Objective. To determine the extent to which the newly implemented revised curriculum had an effect on experience in necessary generic skills of students in their first year of study.
Methods. Students provided annual formal end-of-module evaluation in addition to focus group interviews. Evaluation by teaching staff was conducted by individual in-depth interviews. A validated generic skills questionnaire completed at the end of each academic year monitored the effect on students’ generic learning skills experience.
Results. Feedback from these different evaluation methods identified specific needs in the newly implemented revised curriculum, including contextualisation of interventions, unnecessary duplication of content and malalignment of assessment. This led to minor curriculum changes and an educational capacity-building programme. These responsive curriculum changes after evaluation had the intended positive effect on students’ self reported acquisition of generic learning skills.
Conclusion. The objective of the curriculum evaluation was to monitor content output and the acquisition of crucial generic learning skills. Implementation of a revised curriculum combined with ongoing responsive changes aligned with careful multimodality evaluation can ensure that, in addition to scientific knowledge and skills, generic learning skills development of students is facilitated.

Authors' affiliations

Debbie Murdoch-Eaton, Medical Education, Medical School, University of Sheffield, UK

Alwyn Louw, Centre for Health Professions Education, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa

Juanita Bezuidenhout, Centre for Health Professions Education, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa

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Develop learners; Generic skills; Curriculum evaluation; Curriculum changes; Validity of evaluation; Student success

Cite this article

African Journal of Health Professions Education 2016;8(1):15-19. DOI:10.7196/AJHPE.2016.v8i1.414

Article History

Date submitted: 2014-04-01
Date published: 2016-03-26

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