Challenges to acquire similar learning outcomes across four parallel thematic learning communities in a medical undergraduate curriculum

Yan Zhou, Thomas H. Wieringa, Jasperina Brouwer, Agnes D. Diemers, Nicolaas A. Bos*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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BACKGROUND: To train physicians who are able to meet the evolving requirements from health care, the University of Groningen Medical Center adopted in 2014 a new curriculum named G2020. This curriculum combines thematic learning communities with competency-based medical education and Problem-based learning. In the learning community program, different learning tasks were used to train general competencies. The challenge of this program was whether students acquire similar levels of learning outcomes within the different variations of the program.

METHOD: We used the assessment results of three cohorts for the first two bachelor years. We used progress tests and written tests to analyze knowledge development, and the assessment results of seven competencies to analyze competence development. Concerning knowledge, we used the cumulative deviation method to compare progress tests and used the Kruskal-Wallis H test to compare written test scores between programs. Descriptive statistics are used to present all assessments of the students' competencies.

RESULTS: We observed similarly high passing rates both for competency and knowledge assessments in all programs. However, we did observe some differences. The two programs that focused more on competencies development underperformed the other two programs on knowledge assessment but outperformed on competencies assessment.

CONCLUSION: This study indicates that it is possible to train students in different learning programs within one curriculum while having similar learning outcomes. There are however some differences in obtained levels between the different programs. The new curriculum still needs to improve by balancing variations in the programs and comparability of assessments across the programs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number349
Number of pages14
JournalBMC Medical Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 18-May-2023


  • Competency-based medical education
  • Thematic learning communities
  • Problem-based learning

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