Evaluation of companion animal behavior knowledge among first-year veterinary students before and after an introductory animal behavior course

M. Leanne Lilly 1Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210.

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Andréia Gonçalves Arruda 2Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210.

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Kathryn L. Proudfoot 2Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210.

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Meghan E. Herron 1Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210.

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To survey first-year veterinary students' knowledge of companion animal (dog, cat, and horse) behavior and popular-culture (ie, pop-culture) behavior myths related to animal body language, motivations, and learning prior to participation in an introductory animal behavior course; evaluate potential associations between sources of prior behavior knowledge and knowledge on the preclass survey; and determine whether postclass scores on the same survey were predictive of final examination score for the behavior class.

SAMPLE

156 first-year veterinary students.

PROCEDURES

Students were invited to participate in an anonymous electronic survey before and after a semester-long, 2-credit introductory animal behavior course. Demographic features, self-assessed animal behavior knowledge, and sources of prior behavior knowledge were evaluated as predictors of preclass survey knowledge scores. Postclass survey knowledge scores were evaluated for association with final examination scores as a measure of validity.

RESULTS

Preclass knowledge scores were low (mean ± SD, 49 ± 12.7%; n = 152). Reporting peer-reviewed journal articles as a source of incoming knowledge predicted 9% higher scores, whereas reporting magazines or online pop-culture articles as a source of incoming knowledge predicted 7.6% lower scores for preclass behavior knowledge, compared with scores for students not citing those respective sources. Companion animal ownership was not associated with preclass survey knowledge scores. Postclass knowledge scores were substantially improved (mean ± SD, 84.3 ± 8%) and predictive of final examination scores.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE

Results indicated a profound deficit of behavior knowledge among veterinary students at the start of their curriculum. Students graduating from veterinary institutions without a comprehensive behavior course may be at a disadvantage for day 1 competency in addressing animal behavior problems.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To survey first-year veterinary students' knowledge of companion animal (dog, cat, and horse) behavior and popular-culture (ie, pop-culture) behavior myths related to animal body language, motivations, and learning prior to participation in an introductory animal behavior course; evaluate potential associations between sources of prior behavior knowledge and knowledge on the preclass survey; and determine whether postclass scores on the same survey were predictive of final examination score for the behavior class.

SAMPLE

156 first-year veterinary students.

PROCEDURES

Students were invited to participate in an anonymous electronic survey before and after a semester-long, 2-credit introductory animal behavior course. Demographic features, self-assessed animal behavior knowledge, and sources of prior behavior knowledge were evaluated as predictors of preclass survey knowledge scores. Postclass survey knowledge scores were evaluated for association with final examination scores as a measure of validity.

RESULTS

Preclass knowledge scores were low (mean ± SD, 49 ± 12.7%; n = 152). Reporting peer-reviewed journal articles as a source of incoming knowledge predicted 9% higher scores, whereas reporting magazines or online pop-culture articles as a source of incoming knowledge predicted 7.6% lower scores for preclass behavior knowledge, compared with scores for students not citing those respective sources. Companion animal ownership was not associated with preclass survey knowledge scores. Postclass knowledge scores were substantially improved (mean ± SD, 84.3 ± 8%) and predictive of final examination scores.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE

Results indicated a profound deficit of behavior knowledge among veterinary students at the start of their curriculum. Students graduating from veterinary institutions without a comprehensive behavior course may be at a disadvantage for day 1 competency in addressing animal behavior problems.

Supplementary Materials

    • Supplementary Appendix s1 (PDF 144 kb)
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