February 1994

Predicting Medical Student Success in a Clinical Clerkship by Rating Students' Nonverbal Behavior

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Pediatrics, Children's Hospital (Drs Rosenblum and Platt) and the Office for Educational Development (Dr Wetzel, Mr Daniels, and Ms Crawford), Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass; and the Department of Psychology, Harvard University (Dr Rosenthal), Cambridge, Mass. Dr Rosenblum is now with the Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario.

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1994;148(2):213-219. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1994.02170020099020

Objective:  To evaluate the relative contribution of affective and cognitive skills to ratings of students' clinical performance by their supervisors.

Methods:  Each student's nonverbal behavior was analyzed by examining 33 nonverbal behavioral characteristics in videotape of each of 36 students interviewing a parent or patient three times during a 4-week pediatric clerkship. These ratings were then compared with the student's formal academic evaluation.

Results:  The 33 nonverbal behavioral characteristics rated for each student were reduced to five composite variables. Three of these correlated significantly with the final grade, providing an affective profile of the highly rated student. Regression analysis of the five composite variables revealed that affective skills accounted for at least 46% of the variance in the students' final grades (multiple R=.68, P=.0015).

Conclusions:  Ratings of students' affective characteristics were highly related to clinical evaluations in this pediatric setting. Students who were evaluated highly had a specific affective profile that could be described by analysis of their nonverbal behaviors.(Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1994;148:213-219)