Aggregated student confidence estimates support continuous quality improvements in a competencies-oriented curriculum




Papa, Frank Joseph
Alexander, Jerry H.


0000-0002-5144-1426 (Papa, Frank)

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BMJ Publishing Group Ltd.


Introduction: Competencies oriented medical curricula are intended to support the development of those specific tasks likely to improve patient care outcomes. In 2005, our institution developed curricular objectives and instructional activities intended to enable our students to competently perform four specific clinical tasks (diagnose, treat, manage and explain phenomena) for each of approximately 100 common and/or important patient presentations (eg, dyspnoea). However, competencies oriented curricula must also develop outcome metrics aligned with their objectives and instructional activities in order to launch a continuous quality improvement (CQI) programme. This investigation describes how a novel course evaluation methodology produced presentation and task-focused outcome metrics sufficient to support CQIs in our competencies-oriented curriculum. Methods: Literature suggests that aggregated, group opinions are much more reliable than individual opinions in a variety of settings, including education. In 2010, we launched a course evaluation methodology using aggregated student self-assessments of their confidence in performing the four tasks trained to in each presentation-focused instructional activity. These aggregated estimates were transformed into a variety of graphic and tabular reports which faculty used to identify, and then remediate, those specific instructional activities associated with suboptimal presentation and task-focused confidence metrics. Results: With academic year 2010-2011 serving as a baseline and academic year 2015-2016 as an endpoint, analysis of variance revealed a sustained and statistically significant gain in student confidence across this 6-year study period (p<0.001). Discussion: This investigation demonstrated that aggregated, presentation and task-specific confidence estimates enabled faculty to pursue and attain CQIs in a competencies-oriented curriculum. Suggestions for new approaches to confidence-related research are offered.



Papa, F. J., & Alexander, J. H. (2019). Aggregated student confidence estimates support continuous quality improvements in a competencies-oriented curriculum. BMJ open quality, 8(1), e000398.


© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2019.


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