Effects of a curricular revision on learner outcomes in veterinary clinical pathology

J Vet Med Educ. Summer 2013;40(2):158-70. doi: 10.3138/jvme.0812-072R.


A mixed-methods evaluation was conducted to study learner attitudes and knowledge about clinical pathology across a curricular change that instituted a stand-alone clinical pathology course in place of content within a previously integrated pathology course structure. Groups of pre- and post-change students were assessed three times across the two semesters leading up to graduation. At each time, rank-ordered and open-ended response items probed attitudes, and multiple-choice items assessed knowledge. Data about student clinical pathology performance were also collected from clinical pathology instructors and supervising clinicians. Student rank-ordered items were evaluated by factor analysis; resulting factor-scale scores, multiple-choice scores, and rank responses from study cohorts were statistically assessed between groups and within each group over time. Intraclass correlations were calculated for the coding of student open-ended responses, and all coded responses were compared among groups. Analysis revealed that students in the revised curriculum had greater satisfaction with their training and greater confidence in data interpretation compared to students without exposure to an independent clinical pathology course. Although differences in knowledge of clinical pathology were not detected, it was also apparent that the independent clinical pathology course filled a student-perceived curricular need without raising criticisms related to diminished integration with anatomic pathology. Secondary study outcomes included formative feedback for course improvement, evidence of clerkship efficacy, and baseline data for further studies.

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence
  • Cohort Studies
  • Curriculum
  • Education, Veterinary* / standards
  • Educational Measurement / methods
  • Humans
  • Learning
  • Michigan
  • Pathology, Veterinary / education*
  • Students, Medical / psychology*