Minutes 10.13.11

Minutes 10.13.11

University of Virginia School of Medicine
Curriculum Committee
Minutes – 10/13/11

Pediatric Conference Room, 4:00 p.m.


Present (underlined) were: Gretchen Arnold, Robert Bloodgood, Megan Bray, Chris Burns, Donna Chen, Eugene Corbett, Thomas Gampper, Wendy Golden, Donald Innes (Chair), John Jackson, Keith Littlewood, Veronica Michaelsen, Mohan Nadkarni, Bart Nathan, Linda Waggoner-Fountain, Bill Wilson (Acting Chair), Mary Kate Worden, Mary Grace Baker,  Long Vinh, Thomas Jenkins, Sam Zhao,  Debra Reed (secretary)

  1. Mind, Brain Behavior (MBB) System Review.   Mary Kate Worden presented the MBB System Leader response to the 2011 system review.   

    Overall, the system leaders are pleased with the evaluation of MBB.  Students reported that the learning objectives were clear and well matched to resources, and this represents validation of a great deal of effort by the system leaders.  We note that students reported spending more time on average (10-15 hours) preparing for required morning sessions than they had on average (6-9 hours) in prior systems.  Yet we did not receive complaints that the system was overscheduled, and the means on our exams were quite good.  We are also pleased that students perceived 47% of the course was active learning.

    Responses to the key issues of the evaluation are as follows:

    1.      System Leadership: We will continue to do our best to respond to student concerns in a timely manner.  Now that curricular policies are better established, we are hopeful that students can receive answers more quickly when they pose questions regarding NxGen policies. In addition, we intend to stress to future classes that posting questions to the system newsgroup is a more efficient and effective mechanism of communicating concerns than is emailing individual instructors.  However, we note that many of the student concerns this year focused on the schedule for quizzing and the weighting of quiz grades.  We will clarify to the students in future classes that once the grading system has been established and the course has started it would be unfair to the class as a whole to change it in response to the demands of a minority of students.  We regret that the students might perceive this as rigidity on our part.

    2.      Materials: We will do our best to make all materials available in a timely manner.  Now that the course has run once, we are optimistic that we have most materials on hand.  We intend to clarify for the class the restrictions on the institutional Sylvius license (which provides access to the software free of charge), and emphasize that students who want unlimited access to this software should purchase a personal copy for $45.

    3.      Learning Objectives: We are pleased that students appreciated the quality of the learning objectives in MBB. We will continue to refine them in subsequent iterations of the course.

    4.      Clinical Relevance: We are pleased that the students appreciated the close correlation between basic science and clinical medicine in MBB and will continue to develop and expand these sessions.

    5.      Assessment: The frequency and pacing of assessments will be adjusted in the 2012 course according to the recommendations developed for the entire NxGen curriculum over the summer of 2011.  This includes the following:

    -Assessment worth >10% of the grade will be on weekends, with only 5 of the 10 weekends of MBB scheduled for assessments.
    -Readiness assurance testing for 2-4% of the grade will be held no more than 3 times per week.

    The systems leaders of MBB are committed to providing immediate feedback on all formative assessments, and to providing explanations for all questions on summative, formative and practice questions.

    Of note, we asked students a direct question on the final course evaluation: How did students feel about the frequency of quizzing in MBB?  The data showed that 25% of the students felt number of quizzes was too many, 55% of the students felt the number of quizzes was slightly too many, and 20% of the students felt the number of quizzes was about right.  This data suggests to us that the loudly negative feedback flowing through multiple channels regarding quizzes represents the opinion of only approximately 25% of the class.  Moreover, on one occasion we offered the class a choice to cancel an upcoming quiz in response to some complaints that the number of quizzes was overwhelming.  The classroom clicker vote was 2:1 against this proposal. 

    We are confident that minor adjustments to the quizzing scheduled as proposed above will be well received by the SMD15.

    Finally, the systems leaders note that there were no student failures of the MBB course, which we attribute to the frequent and high quality formative quizzes we ran during the course.

    6.  Independent Study: The system leaders are committed to assessing the independent study material with plans to move some of the more complex material into the morning hours.  We also intend to decrease the classroom time devoted to Human Behavior topics.

    Questions about the accuracy of some of the teaching faculty hours will be addressed with the creators of the report.  Oasis appears to give credit for teaching activities to the department of the first instructor listed alphabetically for each event that often does not accurately delineate the amount of participation in each teaching activity. 

    The Curriculum Committee agreed that the responses to the review were well thought out and appropriate. The Committee approved and re-examine MBB following the 2012 System. 

    The Committee will ask that required textbooks that are not available on line be more clearly outlined for the students at the beginning of the 18-month curriculum during orientation. 

    The Committee thanked the MBB System Leaders for their hard work on this important System.


Donald J. Innes, Jr., M.D.