Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Anatomical Sciences and Neurobiology

Degree Program

Anatomical Sciences and Neurobiology, PhD

Committee Chair

Brueckner-Collins, Jennifer

Committee Member

Herring, Nicole

Committee Member

Davis, Erin

Committee Member

Samuelsen, Chad

Committee Member

Farmer, Russell

Committee Member

Shaw, Monica

Author's Keywords

competency-based medical education and assessment; gross anatomy; first-year medical students; communication; teamwork; professionalism


Competency-based medical education and competency assessment are common in the clerkship years of undergraduate medical education and in graduate medical education; however, they are less commonly included in the preclinical, or basic science, years of medical education. This study investigated the effects of a novel competency-based curricular thread which assessed Communication, Teamwork, and Professionalism competency development of first-year medical students in the gross anatomy lab context. The study employed a convergent parallel mixed methods approach. The quantitative phase used a pretest/posttest design with paired dependent t-tests to determine if students’ exhibited growth, stagnancy, or decline within any of the three competencies over the semester. The analysis resulted in three main conclusions: 1) students exhibited statistically significant self-assessed and peer-assessed growth in the Communication competency, 2) students did not exhibit statistically significant self- or peer-assessed change in the Teamwork competency, and 3) students exhibited peer-assessed statistically significant growth in the Professionalism competency. The qualitative phase of the study involved grounded theory analysis of students’ 3-part competency development portfolio entries to determine what skills students believed they already possessed in each competency, what skills they set goals to improve upon, and how they felt about their progression in each competency over the course of the semester. The qualitative analysis revealed three main themes that students expressed development within for each competency: Imparting Information, Gathering of Information, and Team Communication skills within the Communication competency; Collaboration, Team Engagement, and Conflict/Problem Solving skills within the Teamwork competency; and Interpersonal Relations/Social, Responsibility, and Gross Anatomy lab skills within the Professionalism competency. The findings of this study indicate that competency-based assessments can and should be included in the gross anatomy lab context for first-year medical students to begin to familiarize themselves with aspects of competency-based medical education they will receive in the future.