The Impact of Curriculum Change on Student Stress and Workload

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Dr. Sunilkumar B Dodmani

Abstract- In the fall of 2016 The University of Calgary Medical School implemented a revised undergraduate curriculum. Instruction of the undergraduate program shifted from a system-based curriculum to one organized by clinical presentations (CP). Core documents and curriculum delivery underwent significant change. This study examined how change to the CP curriculum affected student stress and workload. To monitor levels of stress and perceived workload, the first class to experience the CP curriculum was administered a year-end questionnaire that contained several stress related items. Measures of student stress were compared to stress levels reported by first year students from the previous curriculum. Sixty-six of 68 (97%) students responded to the questionnaire. The overall level of stress was moderate and did not differ from the overall stress reported by students of the previous curriculum. When stress due to the curriculum was examined, students of the previous curriculum reported significantly more stress from both “volume” and “complexity” of material while students in the CP curriculum reported significantly more stress due to “ambiguity of expectations”. Students in the CP curriculum viewed the workload of most courses to be manageable. Female students perceived the workload at the beginning of medical school to be heavier than did male students. Implications of these findings are discussed.

Female Student Male Student Academic Medicine Curriculum Change