CEC Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Information Systems (DISS)

Department

Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences

Advisor

Yair Levy

Committee Member

Marilyn K Littman

Committee Member

Laurie Dringus

Abstract

Increasingly, the health care field is utilizing information technology (IT) to help manage large volumes of medical data. This has created a need for health care workers to learn IT skills, which include information gathering skills (IGS), information analysis skills (IAS), and technology skills (TS). Research focused on medical students learning IT skills seems limited, while research focused on IT skills, age, and gender appear contradictory. Research suggests that physicians lack necessary health care industry specific IT skills.

The survey instrument used the three aforementioned skills (IGS, IAS, & TS), based on the Learning Skills Profile (LSP), to measure IT skill competency of both entering osteopathic medical students (group 1) and those who graduated medical school (group 2). Careful examination of both groups allowed for such comparison as they had similar gender distribution and Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) scores. A systematic way to measure student learning is to compare student competencies at the beginning and end of their education experience, while time permits, or ensure the two groups are as similar as possible in their demographic characteristics.

Data was collected from a sample of 430 students, 230 from Group 1, and 200 from group 2 at a private non-profit university in the southeastern United States. Data was analyzed from 102 participants who took the survey indicating a 24% response rate. Strong reliability was recorded for IGS, IAS, and TS with Cronbach's Alphas of .886, .934, and .937, respectively. Significant difference analysis was done using the non-parametric Mann Whitney U test and skills enhancements were plotted on star-graphs to demonstrate increases, if any, of the measured skills. Overall, IGS and IAS showed significant differences in skill enhancements, while TS did not demonstrate a significant skill enhancement between both groups. Additional attention should be given in current medical schools to enhance the TS of medical students, not just the enhancement of IGS and IAS. Gender testing resulted in a significant difference between the groups, while age did not. Limitations for the study were that both groups were surveyed during the same year from one osteopathic medical school. Future suggestions are presented.

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