PURPOSE. Much has been written recently about the use of behavioral objectives in the education of students entering health professions. However, little has been written about their proven effectiveness, particularly in optometric education. The importance of approval by all constituents and their relative agreement is pivotal to program success. This study has been developed to monitor these modalities on an ongoing basis.
METHOD. Third year student clinicians and Primary Care clinical faculty at the Illinois College of Optometry (ICO) were surveyed anonymously, utilizing 22 statements pertaining to approval of the current published clinical objectives that they were asked to rate numerically along a Likert scale from 1-4. The statements covered seven categories, including familiarity/compliance, coherence with grading, clarity, fairness, educational efficacy, professional relevance, and general approval. Additionally, two subjective questions were asked about why the clinical objectives might not be used consistently and how they could be improved.
RESULTS. Of those surveyed, 85 students and 16 clinical faculty responded. The mean response ratings of each category and their standard deviations were calculated for both groups. The data was statistically and graphically analyzed by nonparametric methods. This showed very similar response profiles for both students and faculty with very moderate approval across categories. The one category with consistent statistical difference was fairness, with students perceiving the objectives as less fair.
CONCLUSIONS. While there is some degree of overall acceptance among both constituencies, a great deal of ambivalence remains over the use of these objectives. Faculty and students showed surprising agreement in their assessments of the system, as well. Students, however, seemed to find their use less fair in relation to grades given as supported by statements and subjective comments. This survey will be repeated over consecutive years to achieve internal validity and to monitor future programmatic changes.