Council on Medical Student Education in Pediatrics


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COMSEP 2009 Baltimore Meeting with APPD

Poster Presentation:


Jennifer L. Goralski, MD, Surbparkash Singh, MD, Susan G. Mautone, MD, UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School, Newark, NJ

OBJECTIVES: Self-directed learning via the reading of textbooks is an accepted and common form of learning in the medical education setting. Students are often told to increase their reading. However, what is not known is how the amount of time spent reading corresponds with performance on the end-of-clerkship Pediatric NBME (Shelf) exam. METHODS: A mid-clerkship review is undertaken by the site director at each of two clinical sites associated with the UMDNJ-NJMS Pediatric Clerkship. Students are asked to approximate the number of hours per week they spend reading during this 6 week clerkship. Data from the last 18 months of the clerkship were collected in a retrospective manner. The scores of 233 students were reviewed, eliminating three due to insufficient data. Student’s T-test and Pearson’s Correlation Coefficient were performed to assess clinical significance. RESULTS: 92% of students reported using one of the recommended texts during their studying (Nelson Essentials of Pediatrics, Rudolph’s Fundamentals of Pediatrics, or Woodhead’s Pediatric Clerkship Guide). Time spent reading ranged from 5 hours per week to 44.5 hours per week. There was no correlation between number of hours spent reading and the final Shelf scores (Pearson’s Correlation Coefficient 0.12). A small subset (10 students) were self-described “slow readers”, with a mean NBME score of 72.7 compared with a score of 74.4 for the other students. This difference did not reach statistical significance (P>0.5). CONCLUSIONS: These results do not support the widely-held belief that simply increasing the number of hours spent reading leads to better exam scores. Other factors must be at play, potentially including poor study habits, lack of proficiency in English, or unidentified learning disorders. There exists a potential for bias in that the data were all self-reported; time spent reading may have been over- or underestimated and is subject to recollection bias. Nonetheless, these results should prompt discussion amongst clerkship directors regarding adult learning theory and its role in preparing students for the NBME exam.