Skip to main content

Table 1 Cluster analysis of faculty written comments about students

From: Does what we write matter? Determining the features of high- and low-quality summative written comments of students on the internal medicine clerkship using pile-sort and consensus analysis: a mixed-methods study

Cluster Number of comments Average length of comment (SD) in characters Proportion of students sorting comments in cluster as helpful Features of cluster comments Sample narrative comments Student analysis of comments
A 33 306.4 (153.2) 0.81 Gives examples from student's clerkship; demonstrates knowledge of student At her level of experience with hospital medicine, she demonstrated a solid understanding of the complex pathophysiology of common and uncommon diseases. I enjoyed her approach to patient care, which was well rounded and included psycho-social aspects as well as health-related aspects. Shows close relationship between student and faculty and time put into understanding specific traits of the student.
     Helps student understand how to excel in next clerkship; reinforces good behaviors or gives constructive criticism for how to change He would benefit from focusing on efficiency and being more assertive in putting forth his opinion on management decisions as he often has correct ideas and plans but hesitates to voice them. 1) Very specific about point of improvement, what is lacking and what needs focus. 2) Specific to the issue of hesitation and this goes a long way to instill confidence – something specific to take away.
B 3 107.3 (22.9) 0.37 Exhorts the student to continue current performance Keep up the good work and speak up more on rounds and share your knowledge and thoughts about your patients. N/A
C 7 151.1 (46.7) 0.49 Describes student using terms found in grading rubric without giving advice or specific information Has a good fund of medication knowledge and demonstrates that she continues to read about patient presentation and pathology on a daily basis. 1) I don’t know what “good fund of knowledge” means. 2) The comment suggests they didn’t care enough to write a more helpful comment or simply didn’t know the student.
      Outstanding ability to synthesize and incorporate new knowledge, ideas, and organization into her thinking and proposed management for patients. 1) Vague. 2) I had no idea what this was even saying. What does it mean about exactly what her strengths were?
D 22 90.8 (48.2) 0.13 Use of third person without any personal descriptors or names highly professional in all aspects of her conduct Professionalism needs more specific details. A sentence like this is essentially useless – it doesn’t help the student or go in the Dean’s letter.
     Sentence fragments lacking verbs and capitalization doesn’t have any specific deficiencies. He will benefit, as all of us do, from continuing to read and learn about each patient he sees N/A
     No specific information given - often vague is above the level of his peers. he did a great job on the short week I had with him. 1) This doesn’t tell me much – what is the level of my peers? 2) This is meaningless; the evaluator qualified ‘short week,’ really saying I didn’t know this student very well.
  1. Chi-square 97.75, p < 0.001
  2. F(3,57) = 14.73, p 0.001