Measuring gains in the clinical reasoning of medical students: Longitudinal results from a school-wide script concordance test

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PURPOSE: Medical students develop clinical reasoning skills throughout their training. The Script Concordance Test (SCT) is a standardized instrument that assesses clinical reasoning; test takers with more clinical experience consistently outperform those with less experience. SCT studies to date have been cross-sectional, with no studies examining same-student longitudinal performance gains. METHOD: This four-year observational study took place between 2008 and 2011 at the Indiana University School of Medicine. Students in two different cohorts took the same SCT as second-year medical students and then again as fourth-year medical students. The authors matched and analyzed same-student data from the two SCT administrations for the classes of 2011 and 2012. They used descriptive statistics, correlation coefficients, and paired t tests. RESULTS: Matched data were available for 260 students in the class of 2011 (of 303, 86%) and 264 students in the class of 2012 (of 289, 91%). The mean same-student gain for the class of 2011 was 8.6 (t[259] = 15.9; P < .0001) and for the class of 2012 was 11.3 (t[263] = 21.4; P < .0001). Each cohort gained more than one standard deviation. CONCLUSIONS: Medical students made statistically significant gains in their performance on an SCT over a two-year period. These findings demonstrate same-student gains in clinical reasoning over time as measured by the SCT and suggest that the SCT as a standardized instrument can help to evaluate growth in clinical reasoning skills.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1046-1050
Number of pages5
JournalAcademic Medicine
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2014


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education

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