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Examining the development of veterinary diagnostic expertise in an individual and group setting

, University of Georgia, United States

University of Georgia . Awarded


The goal of gaining expertise in diagnosing cases is one of the primary missions of medical and veterinary schools. To achieve this result, many look to instructional technology to help in creating case-based simulators and virtual animals. The development of valid theories of veterinary and medical diagnosis can contribute to the design of appropriate cases and the implementation of those cases in simulations.

This study replicated previous studies by examining a staged theory of medical expertise with two additional parameters: the use of veterinary medicine instead of human medicine and the use of group discussion of the cases as an experimental treatment.

Problem representations are cognitive structures that combine problem solving and knowledge representation. A staged theory of expertise has been proposed in human medicine which states that novices create poor problem representations, intermediates create elaborate pathophysiologic causal networks as problem representations, and experts create disease specific “illness scripts” as problem representations.

Participants from three categories (novice, intermediate and expert) examined two veterinary cases and were asked to give a diagnosis. Participants in the experimental sections were allowed to discuss the case as a group while the control group conducted individual analyses. After both cases were diagnosed, the participants were asked to recall the cases. The recall of cases is thought to provide insight into the problem representation.

Diagnosis texts were analyzed for accuracy. Recall texts were analyzed using a method of propositional analysis for the following measures: amount of recall, amount of correct recall, amount of recall essential to the case, and amount and depth of encapsulation.

Results did not show the characteristics of a staged theory of expertise. No statistically significant differences were identified for any of the measures with the exception of diagnosis, and in that measure only that experts were more accurate than the other two categories. No differences were identified between the experimental and control groups.

Examination of the results suggests that a refinement of the procedures is necessary to determine if the results are truly representative of a difference between veterinary medicine and human medicine.


Smith, M.L. Examining the development of veterinary diagnostic expertise in an individual and group setting. Ph.D. thesis, University of Georgia. Retrieved June 10, 2023 from .

This record was imported from ProQuest on October 23, 2013. [Original Record]

Citation reproduced with permission of ProQuest LLC.

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