Reaching the limits of mandated self-reporting: clinical logbooks do not predict clerkship performance

Med Teach. 2012;34(3):e185-8. doi: 10.3109/0142159X.2012.642826.


Background: Logbooks are used by US medical schools to evaluate curricular objectives and meet accreditation requirements, but research supporting their utility is conflicting.

Aims: The goal of our study was to examine the relationship between volume of clinical rotation experiences as reported in a logbook and clerkship grades within a longitudinal integrated clerkship.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective cohort study of third-year (clinical) medical students during academic year 2008-2009. We tracked student entries in a pocket-sized logbook (number of clinical encounters per clerkship, total number of exams, and procedures over the academic year). We performed correlation analyses between logbook entries and clerkship grades.

Results: We enrolled 36 students, who reported a total of 2992 encounters, 2262 exams, and 2342 procedures. Correlation coefficients between volume of clinical experience and clerkship grades were less than 0.4, indicating low correlation. We found borderline statistical significance for the Neurology, OB/Gyn, and Surgery clerkships. Sensitivity analyses showed little correlation between low-reporting activity and clerkship grades.

Conclusions: Even within an integrated longitudinal clerkship framework, our findings are consistent with previous studies showing a negligible relationship between logbooks as an educational process measure and how they relate to educational outcomes.

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Clerkship / methods*
  • Clinical Clerkship / organization & administration
  • Clinical Clerkship / standards
  • Documentation / methods
  • Documentation / standards
  • Educational Measurement / methods
  • Educational Measurement / standards*
  • Hospitals, Teaching
  • Humans
  • Massachusetts
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Schools, Medical
  • Self Report / standards
  • Self-Assessment*
  • Students, Medical*