Curriculum development in anesthesia: Basic theoretical principles
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PURPOSE: Educational theories provide a guiding basis for coherent medical curriculum development and instruction in a similar way that evidence-based medicine provides a rational basis for medical treatment. The purpose of this review is to provide general organizational, theoretical and educational principles for developing or modifying an anesthesia curriculum. SOURCE: This paper draws from the general educational and cognitive psychology literature, the medical educational literature from the period 1996-2006, as well as our experience in renewing the anesthesia clerkship curriculum at McMaster University. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Successful curriculum development includes the consideration of stakeholder needs, organizational issues, funding and sustainability, curriculum design, implementation and evaluation. Curriculum design includes the development of curricular goals and objectives, determination of the content and its organization, instructional methods and strategies, and assessment of the learners. Curriculum evaluation is used to judge the curriculum's merit and worth. The findings and recommendations from these evaluations feed back into the curriculum development cycle for further curricular improvements or modifications. CONCLUSION: The current medical environment requires a responsive and efficacious curriculum that is able to keep up with its rapid pace of change. By providing a discussion of the educational and theoretical principles which underpin coherent curriculum development, this paper advocates a rational, theory-based approach to curriculum development.
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