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Open Access Research article

Does reflection have an effect upon case-solving abilities of undergraduate medical students?

Sebastiaan Koole1*, Tim Dornan2, Leen Aper1, Albert Scherpbier3, Martin Valcke4, Janke Cohen-Schotanus5 and Anselme Derese1

Author Affiliations

1 Centre for Educational Development, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium

2 Department of Educational Development and Research, Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands

3 Institute for Medical Education, Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands

4 Department of Educational Studies, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium

5 University of Groningen and University Medical Centre Groningen, Centre for Research and Innovation in Medical Education, Groningen, The Netherlands

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BMC Medical Education 2012, 12:75  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-12-75

Published: 13 August 2012

Abstract

Background

Reflection on professional experience is increasingly accepted as a critical attribute for health care practice; however, evidence that it has a positive impact on performance remains scarce. This study investigated whether, after allowing for the effects of knowledge and consultation skills, reflection had an independent effect on students’ ability to solve problem cases.

Methods

Data was collected from 362 undergraduate medical students at Ghent University solving video cases and reflected on the experience of doing so. For knowledge and consultation skills results on a progress test and a course teaching consultation skills were used respectively. Stepwise multiple linear regression analysis was used to test the relationship between the quality of case-solving (dependent variable) and reflection skills, knowledge, and consultation skills (dependent variables).

Results

Only students with data on all variables available (n = 270) were included for analysis. The model was significant (Anova F(3,269) = 11.00, p < 0.001, adjusted R square 0.10) with all variables significantly contributing.

Conclusion

Medical students’ reflection had a small but significant effect on case-solving, which supports reflection as an attribute for performance. These findings suggest that it would be worthwhile testing the effect of reflection skills training on clinical competence.