Student Course Evaluations: Common Themes across Courses and Years

July 24, 2007

Student course evaluations were analyzed for common themes across five different basic science, clinical, and innovative courses from the first and third years of medical school. Each course had both unique and common numerically scaled items including an overall quality rating item. A principal components analysis was conducted for each course to determine the items that loaded most heavily on the same component as the overall quality item. Across courses and years, the items that consistently loaded on the same component as the overall quality item were (1) administrative aspects including course organization, (2) clearly communicated goals and objectives, and (3) instructional staff responsiveness. These results concur with recent medical education literature in this area. Faculty interested in increasing student ratings of the overall quality of their courses might best attend primarily to carefully organizing course goals and objectives and clearly communicating them. The limitations of these conclusions are discussed.

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