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May 01, 2020

AAVMC sessions focus on data for student success, curriculum on preventive care

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Veterinary college leadership heard about how to leverage data for better student outcomes and about a new online curriculum on preventive care during the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges’ Annual Conference and Iverson Bell Symposium, March 8-10 in Washington, D.C. JAVMA News interviewed several of the speakers.

AAVMC 2020 Annual Conference attendees
Nearly 300 people attended this year’s Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges’ Annual Conference and Iverson Bell Symposium . (Photo by Risdon Photography/Courtesy of AAVMC)

Using data for student success

Molly Gonzales, EdD, said that in her role at Texas A&M University, she is focused on developing resources on the basis of data generated by the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences.

“We recognize that students are spending a lot of money to attend veterinary school,” Dr. Gonzales said. “We want to ensure that they are successful.”

Dr. Gonzales spoke during the session “Where Success Begins: Leveraging Learning Analytics to Predict Student Program Success” on how Texas A&M is using data to predict student success.

“I think a lot of universities are in a similar situation in that we are collecting an extreme amount of data,” Dr. Gonzales said.

The problem is that despite being data rich, most veterinary colleges are information poor. The effort now is to organize the data to create usable information.

“We wanted to take the data and make evidence-based decisions in support of our program to meet the needs of our students,” Dr. Gonzales said. “Data can allow us to evaluate the course content and assess student progress before they start and then predict the student performance—and then identify the at-risk students within the program so we can intervene and help them.”

The team gathered data from 140 veterinary students in the Class of 2021. The next step for the team is to work directly with faculty members to figure out how to support their work.

“I hope this is picked up by other schools,” Dr. Gonzales said. “How can we use all this great data and inform our practices and make this a better opportunity for our students? This helps inform our practices and hone the curriculum.”

Online curriculum on preventive care

Speakers during the session “The Creation of a Blended Learning Preventive Healthcare Curriculum for AAVMC-Partner Schools: A Multi-Institutional Project” discussed a new online curriculum on preventive care.

Modules on preventive care were developed on the basis of a certificate program for practicing veterinarians, veterinary technicians, and practice managers available from AAVMC Primary Care Veterinary Educators and Partners for Healthy Pets, the latter an alliance that seeks to ensure that pets receive preventive health care through regular veterinary visits. Educators adapted the program to be used in veterinary colleges.

“It is free for any school that wants to use the materials,” said Dr. Jordan Tayce, an instructional assistant professor in veterinary integrative biosciences at TAMU. “We have a number of schools already using it.”

The five modules comprise an introduction to preventive medicine and vaccines, dentistry, nutrition, and stress reduction. The resources can be customized for each educator’s use.

“It’s all pre-done so that people can just take what they want or what they need for their school,” said Dr. Raelynn Farnsworth, clinical associate professor at the Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine.

Educators interested in using the curriculum can reach out to jtayceatcvm [dot] tamu [dot] edu (Dr. Tayce) or raelynnatwsu [dot] edu (Dr. Farnsworth) for more information.