Med Students May Evaluate Teaching

A Medical School faculty committee has prepared a report, now under discussion by the school's faculty council, recommending a program of student evaluation for all clinical education programs and academic science courses.

The report of the curriculum committee's subcommittee on the evaluation of medical education recommends that students be asked to detail the academic knowledge or clinical experience they gain in each course, and how they are exposed to it, Dean K. Whitla, a member of the subcommittee, said yesterday.

Those students' accounts would then be compared with faculty members' assessments of what learning is appropriate in each area, Whitla, who is also director of the office of instructional research and evaluation in the Faculty, said.

Mastering a Course

The proposed evaluations would also ask for students' assessments of how well they mastered their courses' academic materials or clinical skills, Whitla added.

The Med School's faculty council discussed the report at its meeting Tuesday, and will continue to discuss it at the next of its monthly meetings. After the council finishes its consideration and offers any amendments, the report must be presented to the School's entire faculty for discussion and approval before the suggestions may be implemented.

"The faculty will probably be willing to give it a go," Whitla said.

The School will probably not release the report until early May--when both the faculty council and the faculty at large have had a chance to consider it and offer amendments, Dr. Peter Reisch, associate professor of Psychiatry and a member of the faculty council, said yesterday.

Reich said that, of the School's research and teaching programs, research often seems to get a disproportionate emphasis. He said that while everyone agrees it is important to provide a balance, the problem lies in implementing a means to provide it.

Reich said that one reason research gets more emphasis is that excellence in research is more easily documented than excellence in teaching. The proposed evaluations could produce more serious appraisal of teaching practices.

The subcommittee's report also explores "ways of teaching younger faculty how to teach," Reich said.

The subcommittee includes nine Med School faculty members and four University and Med School officials.

Pilot Study

The evaluation system outlined in the report was tested last summer in a pilot study in four of the School's clinical clerkship programs, Whitla said. He said the evaluations proved useful and the study was encouraging.

Both President Bok and Dr. Robert H. Ebert, dean of the Medical School, have expressed an interest in the subcommittee's work, Whitla said. He said both came to the subcommittee's first meeting in January 1976.

The pilot study evaluated clinical training programs because they have received the least attention in evaluations of medical education, Whitla said.

Medical school students spend two years in academic courses in the sciences and two years in clinical training in teaching hospitals.