Exploring student preferences with a Q-sort: the development of an individualized renal physiology curriculum.
Medical education reform is underway, but the optimal course for change has yet to be seen. While planning for the redesign of a renal physiology course at the Duke School of Medicine, the authors used a Q-sort survey to assess students' attitudes and learning preferences to inform curricular change. The authors invited first-year medical students at the Duke School of Medicine to take a Q-sort survey on the first day of renal physiology. Students prioritized statements related to their understanding of renal physiology, learning preferences, preferred course characteristics, perceived clinical relevance of renal physiology, and interest in nephrology as a career. By-person factor analysis was performed using the centroid method. Three dominant factors were strongly defined by learning preferences: "readers" prefer using notes, a textbook, and avoid lectures; "social-auditory learners" prefer attending lectures, interactivity, and working with peers; and "visual learners" prefer studying images, diagrams, and viewing materials online. A smaller, fourth factor represented a small group of students with a strong predisposition against renal physiology and nephrology. In conclusion, the Q-sort survey identified and then described in detail the dominant viewpoints of our students. Learning style preferences better classified first-year students rather than any of the other domains. A more individualized curriculum would simultaneously cater to the different types of learners in the classroom.
Roberts, JK; Hargett, CW; Nagler, A; Jakoi, E; Lehrich, RW
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