Charting the Winds of Change: Evaluating Innovative Medical Curricula
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The increased interest, in North America and around the world, in problem-based and community-oriented medical curricula has sparked interest in the evaluation of these innovative programs. In January 1989, the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation sponsored a conference to consider designs for evaluation studies and the potential distinctive outcomes of the innovative curricula that might be foci of these studies. After defining an "innovative curriculum," the participants identified seven characteristics of "important evaluation studies," particularly endorsing studies that compare curricula as whole entities. The participants then identified 26 areas where differences between graduates of innovative and traditional curricula might be expected, and five equally important areas where differences are not expected. Distinctive outcomes of innovative curricula were anticipated in areas such as interpersonal skills, continuing learning, and professional satisfaction. Overall, these recommendations are offered to stimulate creative evaluations of the growing number of innovative programs in medical education.
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