Cognitive Processing Course: A Student-Faculty Collaborative Program for At-Risk Students

Dr Andrea Vaughans1

1American University of Antigua, Coolidge, Antigua ,

The Education Enhancement Department at the American University of Antigua (AUA), College of Medicine, has endeavored to support at-risk students in successfully completing the Basic Science component of medical education. It was evident that the transition from year one to year two contributed significantly to the attrition rate. Upon further investigation, two key factors evolved. Firstly, the year two content demanded more integration, within disciplines and across systems, than students had previously been exposed to. Secondly, students found it difficult to understand the language of the examinations. AUA accepts students from over forty countries. Students whose native language is not English seemed to especially struggle with the latter point. An initiative was undertaken to answer the question: How would the collaboration of structured learning strategies and student-led integrative reviews affect student performance? A fourteen-week, four-pillar program was created consisting of: Identification of individual learning techniques, Organization of knowledge, Time management, and Retrieval of knowledge. All students repeating semester three were mandated to participate. Each session was facilitated by faculty but lead by students. Students further received individualized advice from faculty in congruence with the Self-Regulated Learning Strategies. Exam scores from pre-course and post-course were obtained and compared. 100% of the students showed improvement, ranging from an overall increase in score of 6.27% to 23.80%. The average student improvement was 14%. Preliminary results suggest a positive correlation between the implementation of structured learning strategies paired with student-led reviews and student success, despite their native language.  A similar program is being implemented to assist students taking their final United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). This presentation will illustrate the tools and strategies utilized to create this collaborative program. Participants can expect to gain ideas that may be replicable in various institutions.


Dr. Vaughans is a native of St. Vincent and the Grenadines who received her medical degree from St. Georges University. As an SGU Global scholar, she was afforded the opportunity to train in Grenada, United Kingdom, and the United States. Upon graduating she worked at her alma mater then practiced General Medicine in Trinidad and Tobago. She is presently an Assistant Professor at the American University of Antigua with responsibilities including coordinating the Endocrine and Reproductive System, directing the Cognitive Processing Course Program as well as the Comprehensive Basic Science Examination / STEP 1 Prep Course Program. She has a passion for both clinical and academic medicine, hence, she works extensively with struggling students. In her spare time, she enjoys travelling and spending time with her family.

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