The Hidden Curriculum of Veterinary Education: Mediators and Moderators of Its Effects

Roder, C A and May, S A (2017) The Hidden Curriculum of Veterinary Education: Mediators and Moderators of Its Effects. JOURNAL OF VETERINARY MEDICAL EDUCATION, 44 (3). pp. 542-551.

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The “hidden curriculum” has long been supposed to have an effect on students' learning during their clinical education, and in particular in shaping their ideas of what it means to be a professional. Despite this, there has been little evidence linking specific changes in professional attitudes to the individual components of the hidden curriculum. This study aimed to recognize those components that led to a change in students' professional attitudes at a UK veterinary school, as well as to identify the attitudes most affected. Observations were made of 11 student groups across five clinical rotations, followed by semi-structured interviews with 23 students at the end of their rotation experience. Data were combined and analyzed thematically, taking both an inductive and deductive approach. Views about the importance of technical competence and communication skills were promoted as a result of students' interaction with the hidden curriculum, and tensions were revealed in relation to their attitudes toward compassion and empathy, autonomy and responsibility, and lifestyle ethic. The assessment processes of rotations and the clinical service organization served to communicate the messages of the hidden curriculum, bringing about changes in student professional attitudes, while student-selected role models and the student rotation groups moderated the effects of these influences.

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