A triangulated, mixed-method investigation of an online curriculum mapping system in medical education

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Copyright: Watson, Eilean Genevieve Sinclair
This research investigates the use of an online curriculum mapping system developed to support the design, delivery and review of undergraduate medical education. This is an advanced, web-enabled and database-driven system known as eMed Map that has been in use by educational staff since late 2003 and by students since early 2004. eMed Map forms part of an integrated curriculum management system which sits at the interface of education, technology and practice. This mixed-method research project uses a case-study approach and a triangulation of methods. It consists of a qualitative component based on observations and textual documentation, a quantitative component appraised via web log reports linked to staff data, and an attitude assessment through a predominantly quantitative self-reported survey questionnaire. The thesis addresses a deficit in the current knowledge base about curriculum map use and impacts. Using systems theory and systems thinking paradigms to synthesise and discuss the findings, the research uncovered a number of interrelated factors affecting map use pertaining to the individual user, the technology and the organisation. Map awareness and use varied considerably, chiefly by staff type and by school location, and distinct groups of users were identified. Knowledge about the Map varied substantially, while utilisation of its help sites was minimal. The system was generally being used for content management while its more advanced educational and organisational uses were not being realised. The need for further information and training for staff was evident, as was the need to review certain educational and organisational procedures and information technology features and functions. Hence, while the system was widely available, its diffusion amongst staff was not what was hoped by planners and advocates of the curriculum map. The thesis considers practical implications for improving the diffusion of eMed Map by reviewing the whole curriculum mapping system and its leverage points from a systems thinking and system dynamics perspective. The lessons learnt from this case-study and the suggestions and key recommendations derived from it can be applied not only to medical education but also to other higher education programs that use or plan to use advanced online curriculum mapping systems.
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Watson, Eilean Genevieve Sinclair
Braithwaite, Jeffrey
Land, Lesley
McNeil, H Patrick
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PhD Doctorate
UNSW Faculty
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