Improving Student Engagement in Veterinary Business Studies
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In a densely packed veterinary curriculum, students may find it particularly challenging to engage in the less overtly clinical subjects, yet pressure from industry and an increasingly competitive employment market necessitate improved veterinary student education in business and management skills. We describe a curriculum intervention (formative reflective assignment) that optimizes workplace learning opportunities and aims to provide better student scaffolding for their in-context business learning. Students were asked to analyze a business practice they experienced during a period of extra-mural studies (external work placement). Following return to the college, they were then instructed to discuss their findings in their study group, and produce a group reflection on their learning. To better understand student engagement in this area, we analyzed individual and group components of the assignment. Thematic analysis revealed evidence of various depths of student engagement, and provided indications of the behaviors they used when engaging at different levels. Interactive and social practices (discussing business strategies with veterinary employees and student peers) appeared to facilitate student engagement, assist the perception of relevance of these skills, and encourage integration with other curriculum elements such as communication skills and clinical problem solving.
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