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The Importance of Contextual Factors in Program Development and Evaluation – A Case Study

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posted on 01.05.2020, 00:00 authored by Amy L. Halverson
Several conceptual frameworks discuss the importance of context in educational program development and evaluation. The interpretation of context varies among the different conceptual frameworks. Additionally, there are limited examples in the literature how one can identify context, of how educational programs should be adapted to relevant contexts and how context may inform and affect program evaluation. We collected geographic information, course evaluation results and follow-up survey data related to a skills course for rural surgeons offered by the American College of Surgeons. This course provides an illustrative example of how contextual factors such as current trends, the learning environment, learners’ baseline behaviors, and learners’ practice setting influence learning and subsequent implementation of new knowledge, attitudes and skills into clinical practice. Educational interventions should have a learner-centric approach to content that considers the learners’ baseline experience, self-confidence and potential barriers to implementation of newly learned techniques. Educators may keep content new and relevant by keeping abreast of current popular topics related to surgical patient safety. Additionally, the introduction of new technology or instrumentation is an opportunity for education and training. Educators should realize that an outstanding curriculum may be derailed by logistical issues in the educational setting. We recommend that educators create a checklist of necessary resources, including space, personnel and equipment, and develop contingency plans for unexpected problems.



Riddle, Janet


Riddle, Janet


Medical Education

Degree Grantor

University of Illinois at Chicago

Degree Level


Degree name

MHPE, Master of Health Professions Education

Committee Member

Yudkowsky, Rachel McGaghie, Wiliam

Submitted date

May 2020

Thesis type




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