Proceedings of The Physiological Society
University of Oxford (2011) Proc Physiol Soc 23, PC4
Evaluating student perceptions of a module: a modified nominal group technique
1. School of Clinical & Experimental Medicine, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, United Kingdom.
The modular structure of the MBChB course can lead to compartmentalization of learning. The ability to understand, interpret and integrate information is essential for medical students while they are studying and in their future careers as doctors1. In Birmingham, the pre-clinical Integrated Problems (IP) module was developed with the aim of integrating learning across the curriculum. The module uses medical case studies for the students to learn in an enquiry-based setting in order to develop these important skills as well as to develop their presentation, group learning and reflective skills. At present the main form of feedback from students comes from a standard College of Medical & Dental Sciences module feedback questionnaire consisting of general questions scored on a Likert scale2 and free text comments. One of the comments asks the students’ to list the three best things about the module, however with a cohort of ~400 students this information is difficult to collate and interpret. The aim of this study was to design an activity to collect representative data from the students in a form that was easier to analyse. A modified nominal group technique3,4 activity was developed to collect this data. In tutorial groups (n=22), students (16-18 per group) were asked to take 5-10 mins to discuss, list and rank what they perceived to be the three best things about the IP module. Students were told they must reach a consensus as a group. The activity was performed at the beginning of semester 1, year 2 when students were in new tutorial groups with new facilitators; students were asked to reflect on their experiences in year 1. Ranked lists were returned for analysis. Each of the three best things were assigned to ten representative categories and given points depending on their rank (1st=3, 2nd=2, 3rd=1). An Importance Rating (IR) was calculated by multiplying the number of mentions by the total score in each category. 21 out of the 22 (95%) tutorial groups provided a response to the activity. Using the IR the best thing about the module was the opportunity for team-working and getting to know their tutorial group (IR 351;13 mentions, 27 points), followed by developing confidence (IR 253; 11 mentions, 23 points) and choice of what to study (IR 209; 11 mentions, 19 points). There was a clear gap between the cohort’s three best things and the fourth ranked category (developing presentation skills, IR 112). This study introduces an activity for collecting feedback on a specific component of a module and a method for analysing and ranking the feedback. Not only is this technique aligned with the learning outcomes of the IP module but also allows representative data to be easily collected from a cohort of ~400 students. This technique could be easily adapted to collect feedback on a huge variety of teaching and learning activities.
Where applicable, experiments conform with Society ethical requirements