Development and evaluation of a Research Project Program for medical students at the University of Calgary Faculty of Medicine

Acad Med. 2001 Feb;76(2):189-94. doi: 10.1097/00001888-200102000-00023.


This essay outlines the development and evaluation of the Research Project Program (RPP) ten years after its introduction into the medical curriculum at the University of Calgary. The RPP consists of two mandatory for-credit courses. Students have the option of conducting either two smaller independent research projects or one larger project over the two years. At the end of the second-year course the students complete an evaluation of the RPP in which they are asked to assess and comment upon various aspects of the program. The authors compared data available from years one (the class of 1990) and ten (the class of 2000) and found significant differences between the two classes' approaches to the RPP. Most of the class of 2000 (89%) carried out two-year independent in-depth research projects spanning a wide range of topics. Half of these projects involved individual collection and analyses of data using experimental methods; this represented a 2.25-fold increase over the first year of the program. In the class of 2000, 44% of students presented their results at a newly implemented research symposium; an additional 22% of students presented their results at local, national, or international meetings. Further, 59% of the class of 2000 had either submitted or were planning to submit their research for peer-reviewed publication. In contrast, none of the students of the class of 1990 formally presented their research, and only 11% planned to submit their research findings for publication. The RPP has evolved in the ten years since its implementation, but the authors believe the program continues to foster independent learning and analytic and problem-solving skills.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Alberta
  • Curriculum
  • Learning
  • Program Evaluation / methods
  • Research*
  • Students, Medical*