2008, Prague: ‘Evaluation of the Veterinary Curriculum’

The fifth ‘ViEW’ (Veterinary Education Worldwide) workshop was held in association with the Association for Medical Education in Europe (AMEE) conference in Prague on 31st August 2008, facilitated by Debbie Jaarsma (Utrecht University), Vicki Dale and Kim Whittlestone (both of the Royal Veterinary College, London).

Invited speaker Dr. Diana Dolmans (Department of Educational Development and Research, Maastricht University) provided an overview of:

  • the concept of quality assurance
  • instruments and procedures that can be used
  • important features of a system for quality assurance
  • how to apply the knowledge about quality assurance to a particular situation 

In her presentation, Dr. Dolmans emphasised the cyclical nature of quality assurance, the need to triangulate evidence from different sources, the importance of having internal and external review mechanisms, and the need to have a mechanism for acting on feedback. In a small group practical activity, delegates were asked to troubleshoot a hypothetical case study where the evaluation of a new veterinary curriculum did not result in its improvement. This was done using the ‘fishbone diagram’, a cause-and-effect diagram borrowed from industrial quality management.

Dr. Vicki Dale presented an overview of evaluation inventories such as the Course Valuing Inventory (Nehari and Bender 1978), the Course Experience Questionnaire (Ramsden and Entwisle 1981) and the Dundee Ready Education Environment Measure (Roff et al. 1997). Participants were introduced to the findings of some published studies that had used these inventories, and were encouraged to assess their usefulness in terms of where they sit in relation to Kirkpatrick’s (1967) hierarchy, how they can be used as a measure of professional skills teaching, how they can improve the quality of teaching, how they can best be correlated with other measures to give a wider indicator of quality, and how adaptable they are to different contexts. Delegates were also encouraged to reflect on the benefits and limitations of using an existing inventory versus developing a new one.

ViEW President Professor Peter van Beukelen (Utrecht University), and Treasurer Professor Susan Rhind (University of Edinburgh) led discussions about outcome measures such as the attainment of Day One skills. It was agreed that professional skills were difficult to assess, and that it was even more difficult to evaluate whether teaching of professional skills had a positive impact at the level of patient care. However, there was unanimous agreement for the need for professional skills training to be introduced from point of entry to veterinary school, and in an evidence-based way.

Dr. Debbie Jaarsma gave a presentation on the importance of research in veterinary medical education. Within this, she stressed the need for national and international collaborations in work that needed to be theoretically grounded. She also presented the outcomes of some of the research she has undertaken at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Utrecht, on seminar learning, research internships and formative assessment. Her work has recently been published as a (2008) book “Developments in Veterinary Medical Education: Intentions, perceptions, learning processes and outcomes” (ISBN/EAN 978-90-393-4904-5) by Ridderprint, Ridderkerk, The Netherlands. This publication can be viewed online, and/or a printed copy ordered from here.

Attendees made suggestions for the following year’s ViEW workshop, the majority of which related to ‘professionalism’. This was accepted at the AGM where Professor John Tegzes of Western University, California, was welcomed as ViEW Secretary.

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