Organization, Information and Learning Sciences ETDs

Publication Date



Given the call for change in medical school curriculum towards a more humanistic approach, it remains clear that there is an urgent need to study the effects of personal development classes on medical students skill level. Using participants from an ethical influence communications class, this study explored the impact of the use of reflection on personal awareness and professional competence skills in second and third year medical students. A total of 230 reflection papers from 46 medical students were analyzed using CAQDAS — computer assisted qualitative data analysis system-- with Atlas ti 6.2. Personal interviews (n=11) followed for clarification and verification of results. Analysis showed that reflection papers proved to be an effective way to measure changes in self-development levels as well as some of the dimensions of professional competence skills required for graduating medical students. Students reported an appreciation and a strong desire for increased classes on personal awareness as well as insight into the results on communication skills of a medical curriculum based on a strictly medical model. The reflection papers allowed some students to vi \u2015have a voice\u2016 in a system, they felt, where they were not heard. Many students reported an increased awareness of viewing the patient as individuals, vs. the \u2015uniform patient,\u2016 as a result of learning about themselves. Several students suggested a need for advanced communication classes to develop the skill level they felt they needed to deal with public expectations. Interestingly, all graduating students interviewed, who applied the content of the class to the final assignment of writing an application to a residency program, were admitted into their first program of choice. Findings from this study may provide suggestions on incorporating personal and self-development classes into a medical school curriculum. Using a case study approach, this qualitative exploratory study offers an example for future researchers on insights into the use of reflection and assessing learning in medical students, how medical students perceive their educational experience, and the benefits of incorporating personal awareness experiences for the individual student.

Degree Name

Organizational Learning and Instructional Technology

Level of Degree


Department Name

Organization, Information & Learning Sciences

First Committee Member (Chair)

Salisbury, Mark

Second Committee Member

Noll, Bruce

Third Committee Member

Schuetz, Janice




Medical students--Case Studies, Awareness--Study and teaching (Higher)--Case studies, Reflection (Philosophy)--Case studies, Transformative learning--Case studies, Qualitative research

Document Type