Author: McGurgan P, Carmody D and Tregonning A Publication Year: 2015
Summary: The study aimed to develop and validate an instrument- the Hidden Informal Curriculum Assessment Tool (HICAT) to quantify both the frequency of positive and negative aspects of the hidden / informal curriculum and the “impact factor” of these experiences for medical students.
Description: Introduction: The study aimed to develop and validate an instrument- the Hidden Informal Curriculum Assessment Tool (HICAT) to quantify both the frequency of positive and negative aspects of the hidden / informal curriculum and the “impact factor” of these experiences for medical students.

Methods: The authors developed a questionnaire which was distributed to medical students undergoing a clinical rotation over the course of an academic year. To examine internal validity the authors compared the results of the HICAT for students based on their gender, level of entry in the course and overseas status.

Results: 99 students participated in the survey (response rate 60%). The most influential student experiences were positive examples of the hidden/ informal curriculum. The commonest negative experience which had a significant influence on the students was the experience of being disadvantaged due to gender. Males more often felt disadvantaged by their gender than female students. International students more often felt disadvantaged by their ethnic background than domestic students.

Conclusions: The HICAT was user friendly and demonstrated internal validity. Further research is needed to determine external validity. HICAT may be a useful instrument for educational and health professional organisations to benchmark and identify the strengths and weaknesses of their hidden/ informal curricula.

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