How to connect? Peer networks and competence development in multiple thematic learning communities within one medical degree programme

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    Everyone is interconnected in some manner. Positive peer relationships benefit students’ learning process and outcomes. To keep up with the progress of our society and patients’ needs, medical schools strive to train future professionals as exceptional teamworkers who can address patients’ problems, with a basic level of competencies but specific knowledge. Therefore, the UMCG designed an innovative competency-driven curriculum that utilizes four parallel thematic learning communities to strengthen student connections and provide a diverse curriculum content for undergraduate medical students. We explored how the innovative curriculum design affects students’ learning and connections by comparing students’ professional competencies performance and the formation of five types of social networks between thematic learning communities, taking into account students’ various backgrounds.

    Students in four parallel thematic learning communities can achieve similar learning outcomes while reflecting the diversity of curriculum design simultaneously. Curriculum designers need to strike a balance between diversity and comparability of curriculum design, specifically assessment design. Thematic learning communities do promote peer relationships within learning communities, especially collaboration relationships. It also enhances connections between students with different backgrounds, which may benefit their academic performance. However, it is noted that students also connect with peers in other learning communities out of class. These informal peer relationships are crucial to student learning as well. As a result, if the learning environment changed abruptly, such as from on-site to online, faculty need to pay close attention to maintain or promote students’ informal peer relationships.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Groningen
    • Bos, Nico, Supervisor
    • Diemers, Agnes, Co-supervisor
    • Brouwer, Jasperina, Co-supervisor
    Award date22-Jun-2022
    Place of Publication[Groningen]
    Publication statusPublished - 2022

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