Communicating curriculum reform to students: Advice in hindsight.....

Michelle McLean*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)
36 Downloads (Pure)


Backgound: In view of the changing health care needs of communities, curriculum reform of traditional curricula is inevitable. In order to allay the apprehension that may accompany such change, curriculum development and implementation should be an inclusive process, with both staff and students being well informed of the planned reform. In 2001, the Nelson R. Mandela School of Medicine implemented Year 1 of a problem-based learning curriculum. During the design phase, students and staff were invited to take part in the development and were kept abreast of developments through meetings and newsletters. Method: A survey of Years 1-5 students of the last intake into the traditional curriculum was undertaken a few months prior to the implementation of the new programme. Results: Students were generally well informed about the impending change, having heard about it from fellow students and staff. The more senior the students, the less the perceived impact of the reform. Although most of what students had heard was correct, some, however, had misconceptions that were generally extreme views (e.g. all self-directed learning; no Anatomy) about the new programme. Others expressed valid concerns (e.g. underpreparedness of students from disadvantaged schools; overcrowding in hospitals). Conclusions: Advice offered to institutions considering curriculum reform include using various methods to inform internal and external affected parties, ensuring that the student representative body and staff is well informed, reiterating the need for the change, confirming that the new programme meets recognised standards and that the students most affected are reassured about their future studies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4
Number of pages10
JournalBMC Medical Education
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jun 2003
Externally publishedYes


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