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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Susan Lenoch, MA (University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine)
Description: This guide to curriculum development provides a practical overview of instructional design applied to medical education. This is an update of the 1998 edition.
Purpose: This book achieves its purpose of providing practical, theoretically sound advice on curriculum design in medical education. While there are other books on curriculum design, this one is unique in its application to medical education, specifically discussing the issues and educational methodology pertinent to this field.
Audience: It is intended for anyone involved in curriculum development in medical education, but it is suitable for a wider audience in health sciences. The authors have years of experience teaching curriculum development.
Features: All phases of curriculum design, from needs assessment to evaluation, are covered. Needs assessment is approached in two phases: characterizing a particular healthcare problem, then targeted learners. The chapter on goals and objectives explains differences between learning objectives and other types of program objectives, a distinction that is important in curriculum design and one that often confuses faculty. The chapters on educational strategies and evaluation provide guidance in aligning methods with objectives, a key principle of curriculum design. The book continues with practical advice that is often neglected: implementation and curriculum maintenance. The chapter on dissemination encourages planning for sharing and promoting innovations. The appendixes provide example curricula and an extensive list of resources in addition to the general references in each chapter.
Assessment: I am not aware of another book devoted to curriculum design in medical education. This one provides broad practical guidance and updated content reflecting developments in education since the 1998 edition. Some chapters are less effective than others. Approaching needs assessment through analysis of a healthcare problem is useful when one has an agenda to target a particular healthcare concern. Indeed, the scope of the book makes it particularly well suited for designing a campaign to tackle a public health problem involving many types of targeted learners with different needs. It is more difficult to apply this approach to the design of a broader professional education program (e.g., a whole course). The authors provide a useful primer on an objectives-based, experimental/quasi-experimental approach to evaluation, but do not begin to address other evaluation questions. Surprisingly, there is virtually no discussion about the logic model approach; some guidance on this current thinking would be desirable even if beyond the scope of the book. (Logic Modeling Methods in Program Evaluation, Frechtling, John Wiley & Sons, 2007.)