ABSTRACT: The Impact of Lecture Attendance and Other Variables on How Medical Students Evaluate Faculty in a Preclinical Program
PURPOSE:High-quality audiovisual recording technology enables medical students to listen to didactic lectures without actually attending them. The authors wondered whether in-person attendance affects how students evaluate lecturers.METHOD:This is a retrospective review of faculty evaluations completed by first- and second-year medical students at the Ohio State University College of Medicine during 2009-2010. Lecture-capture technology was used to record all lectures. Attendance at lectures was optional; however, all students were required to complete lecturer evaluation forms. Students rated overall instruction using a five-option response scale. They also reported their attendance. The authors used analysis of variance to compare the lecturer ratings of attendees versus nonattendees. The authors included additional independent variables-year of student, student grade/rank in class, and lecturer degree-in the analysis.RESULTS:The authors analyzed 12,092 evaluations of 220 lecturers received from 358 students. The average number of evaluations per lecturer was 55. Seventy-four percent (n = 8,968 evaluations) of students attended the lectures they evaluated, whereas 26% (n = 3,124 evaluations) viewed them online. Mean lecturer ratings from attendees was 3.85 compared with 3.80 by nonattendees (P≤ .05; effect size: 0.055). Student’s class grade and year, plus lecturer degree, also affected students’ evaluations of lecturers (effect sizes: 0.055-0.3).CONCLUSIONS:Students’ attendance at lectures, year, and class grade, as well as lecturer degree, affect students’ evaluation of lecturers. This finding has ramifications on how student evaluations should be collected, interpreted, and used in promotion and tenure decisions in this evolving medical education environment.