Open Access Research article

Benefits of off-campus education for students in the health sciences: a text-mining analysis

Kazumasa Nakagawa1*, Yasuyoshi Asakawa2, Keiko Yamada3, Mitsuko Ushikubo2, Tohru Yoshida2 and Haruyasu Yamaguchi2

Author affiliations

1 Faculty of Health Care, Takasaki University of Health and Welfare, Takasaki City, Gunma, JAPAN

2 Graduate School of Health Sciences, Gunma University, Maebashi City, Gunma, JAPAN

3 Comprehensive Regional Support Center, Western Part of Maebashi City, Gunma, JAPAN

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Citation and License

BMC Medical Education 2012, 12:84  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-12-84

Published: 28 August 2012



In Japan, few community-based approaches have been adopted in health-care professional education, and the appropriate content for such approaches has not been clarified. In establishing community-based education for health-care professionals, clarification of its learning effects is required. A community-based educational program was started in 2009 in the health sciences course at Gunma University, and one of the main elements in this program is conducting classes outside school. The purpose of this study was to investigate using text-analysis methods how the off-campus program affects students.


In all, 116 self-assessment worksheets submitted by students after participating in the off-campus classes were decomposed into words. The extracted words were carefully selected from the perspective of contained meaning or content. With the selected terms, the relations to each word were analyzed by means of cluster analysis.


Cluster analysis was used to select and divide 32 extracted words into four clusters: cluster 1—“actually/direct,” “learn/watch/hear,” “how,” “experience/participation,” “local residents,” “atmosphere in community-based clinical care settings,” “favorable,” “communication/conversation,” and “study”; cluster 2—“work of staff member” and “role”; cluster 3—“interaction/communication,” “understanding,” “feel,” “significant/important/necessity,” and “think”; and cluster 4—“community,” “confusing,” “enjoyable,” “proactive,” “knowledge,” “academic knowledge,” and “class.”


The students who participated in the program achieved different types of learning through the off-campus classes. They also had a positive impression of the community-based experience and interaction with the local residents, which is considered a favorable outcome. Off-campus programs could be a useful educational approach for students in health sciences.

Community-based education; School of health sciences; Early exposure; Role model; Text-mining methods