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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Fair Warning

I'm giving you fair warning.  This post rapidly disintegrates into a whiny bitchy moaning post.

First the good news.

Good news 1:  I aced the test on Tuesday.  Yeah!  Another test this afternoon. (update - did well, but I'm not sure I did as well as the first one.)

Good news 2: I finally feel like a "real" vet student after staying at school past 10:30p and getting home at midnight.  Finally!  I've been practically keeping banker's hours.  Had a blast with two friends, putting together a presentation designed to test our knowledge of cells of the blood and marrow and what stage of maturation the cells are in..... (update:  I totally would have failed the test if it hadn't been for me and my friends getting together and reviewing those pictures to create a photo atlas.  Yeah collaborative effort!)

Now I get to commence with the bitchy and whining.

You will find that I regularly sing the praises of this new, integrated curriculum.  It's incredible to immerse myself in a single subject without juggling other courses, and to be in lectures a fraction of the time as my collegues in the class years ahead of me.  The PBL part of the curriculum is primarilythe small group work has been really really really fun.  An INCREDIBLY rewarding.  The small group sessions are less-informed version of what I see in the teaching vet hospital during my rotations through the hospital - a group of students around a table that creating problem lists, describing disease mechanisms, and creating a differential diagnosis list.  We have a facilitator whose job is to make sure we don't get too far off track in our problem lists and direct discussion as necessary.  He is there as an observer and because (of course) there has to be a evaluate and grade us as a group.

Now onto the bitching.

Now - my group was fairly upset when we saw our scores post for the PBL section of the first foundations block.  A low B for us all.  We were confused.  Only good feedback was received about our group dynamics and our group process.  Nothing except praise was heaped upon our expectant heads - expecting, I might say, some sort of constructive criticism since in the intro block (first 2 weeks of school) we had HOURS of lecture on receiving and giving constructive feedback. 

Other groups with different facilitators got perfect scores with constructive criticism - including groups that had some less than desirable dynamics going on.....Our group was ASSURED that all would be cleared up when we got our individual WRITTEN feedback, from our facilitators.


There are 5 categories from "poor" to "outstanding", with bubbles to be filled in across several "categories" of performance.

On my evaluation down each category the same bubble was filled in.  The middle one.  "Satisfactory".

And that "constructive critism" we were all waiting for?

Here were the only comments on my review, I quote:

"Good job.  Your organizational skills showed well when you were the leader and you remained engaged throughout.  I have no doubt you will do well."


How very helpful. And while I appreciate the compliment, it's not exactly something I can take to my next PBL and improve that score.   

Now, as someone who has WRITTEN COMPREHENSIVE reviews for a department, and recieved VERY honest reviews for the past 5 years - I feel I have a good handle on reviews in general - both writing and receiving.

Thank goodness the first foundations block was pass/fail.  Yes, it was obstinately to encourage collaboration between students, but obviously it gives the faculty a chance to figure out how to grade this new curriculum.  Honestly, I can't see how they are going to get consistency between the facilitators and it may just be a case of it all averaging out in the end - irritating nevertheless.  I'm fine with deflating grades - it's about time and a new curriculum is a perfect place to do so - BUT can we at least make sure all the facilitators are on the same page?

It's like going to an endurance ride and being pulled for a grade 1 inconsistent lameness, while the vet next to you is vetting through grade 3 consistent ones. 


  1. You have my COMPLETE sympathy!

    When I was in grad school, I had a prof who gave me a "B" on a long paper...and that's the ONLY feedback I got from her for the paper. Our entire program is/was based on feedback, and all I got was the letter "B".

    She didn't "get" why I was upset. She thought I was bitching about the grade, when I was actually complaining about the total lack of useful feedback.

    Finally, I had the Dean of Students explain it to her.

    From then on, all my papers got A's...and not a single additional word of feedback. I told the Dean about the problem again, and then declined to take courses from that prof in the future (which, fortunately for me, was an option).

    Apparently the Dean didn't make much impression either...I notice that the prof is now teaching at another university, many states distant!

    Learning curve. Sometimes instructors need them too....

  2. I hope things improve. I had a similar experience to AareneX in grad school. I received a B on a very vague writing prompt which I felt that the professor did not even understand herself. Ironically, I scored higher than all of the English majors in my class, who received C's on the paper (I was a biology/chemistry person.) If you think I was upset, they were livid!

  3. PBL = problem based learning - you are given a problem and then to come to a conclusion you have to do all the preliminary research to let you make a decesion on a case.

    For example - looking at a clinical data sheet/history for an cat, trying to determine whether it is IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) or lymphoma.....but not even knowing what those diseases are - so you first have to find out what the diseases are, how the present, then look at the data and decide what it has.

  4. Here's how I handled it: go home, scream, kick something, and eat a tub of chocolate ice cream.

  5. Good advice for any situation :)


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