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May 1989

Documentation of Students' Clinical Reasoning Using a Computer Simulation

Author Affiliations

From the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, and The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

Am J Dis Child. 1989;143(5):575-579. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1989.02150170077026

• Computer simulations can provide both a clinical experience for teaching problem solving and a method of documenting a student's clinical reasoning style. The CAMPS simulation consists of approximately 500 items describing a patient's history, physical examination and laboratory results, and treatments. The student has full option to select any item in any order, producing a wide variation of performances. Since all of the students interact with the same clinical problems, the faculty member can make comparisons of that individual student with the class. From the record of the simulation encounter, the person responsible for student evaluations can prepare a narrative that lists the overall performance, the specific omissions and commissions, and comparisons with the class. Experience with a group of 111 students in a basic pediatric course showed that this method of documenting clinical inquiry detected a variety of levels of performances. Comparisons of the results of these tests with the faculty observations showed that 16% of these students who were judged to be very good or excellent in problem solving by the faculty performed at least 1 SD below the class average on the simulations. This project highlights the power of computer simulations to provide documentation of student performance with the additional benefit of a cost of less than $1 per student.

(AJDC 1989;143:575-579)

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