Identifying approaches and tools for evaluating community-based medical education programmes in Africa
Background: The US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)-funded Medical Education Partnership Initiative (MEPI) aims to support medical education and research in sub-Saharan African institutions. The intention is to increase the quantity, quality and retention of graduates with specific skills addressing the health needs of their populations. While many MEPI programmes include elements of community-based education (CBE), such as community placements, clinical rotations in underserved locations, community medicine, or primary healthcare, the challenge identified by MEPI-supported schools was the need for appropriate approaches and tools to evaluate these activities. This article outlines the process of identifying tools that, with modification, could assist in the evaluation of CBE programmes in participating MEPI schools.
Methods: A literature search was carried out to identify approaches and tools that could be used in Africa to evaluate CBE programmes. The search included published, peer-reviewed literature as well as grey literature and websites. Evaluation tools considered appropriate were obtained from the articles or their authors for inclusion in a compendium of example CBE evaluation tools. All tools sourced through the search were entered into a CBE evaluation matrix, which included an analysis of the tool in relation to Kirkpatrick’s four levels of evaluation.
Results: Out of 37 sources included as appropriate, 8 sets of CBE evaluation tools were obtained for the compendium. Most of the evaluations were quantitative, relied on Likert-type scales, and focused on measuring CBE activities and intermediate outcomes in terms of student learning. When categorised according to the level of the evaluation, the evaluations largely focused on levels 1 and 2 of the Kirkpatrick model, as measured through students’ reactions to and learning from the CBE programmes. Tools that focused on student assessment, rather than programme evaluation, were excluded from the final set.
Conclusion: With the shortage of published literature on CBE evaluation, the findings of this literature review will assist African medical schools in developing appropriate evaluation approaches and tools.
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