Harvard Macy Programs

Program for Educators in Health Professions

Offered Annually in Boston, MA
Next Program:
January 10-20 and May 16-20, 2016
Application Deadline:
September 27, 2015

Program Directors:

Program Objectives Advances in the science of learning require health care educators to develop and practice new teaching skills consistent with the current knowledge of experiential learning theory. The goal of this Harvard Macy Institute Program is to provides a select group of participants with the knowledge base and skills to enhance their expertise in both conducting an educational project of their own design and taking a leadership role in the educational activities at their institutions.

Scholars will reflect on the questions and assumptions underlying health care education, including:
  • Learning and teaching: How do adults learn? What teaching strategies enhance learning? How can observation, practice, and reflection enhance learning and teaching? How are effective faculty development programs designed and implemented?
  • Curriculum: What are the missions and assumptions of different health care curricula? What are the elements of effective curriculum design? How can we plan strategically for curricular change?
  • Evaluation: What are the basic purposes of educational evaluation, research and assessment in healthcare education? What methods of evaluation are effective in assessing the merits of innovative activities? How can evaluation outcomes best be disseminated and used?
  • Leadership: How can conflicting responses and resistance to change be dealt with productively? How can organizations plan strategically for the introduction of educational innovations? Which leadership styles increase the likelihood of acceptance of change?
  • Educational technology: What are the latest contributions of Information Technology to effective learning and curriculum design? How can Information Technology and Web technology be used to facilitate assessment?

Program Description This program is designed to be an intensive learning experience. The days are full and the pace is brisk. The program consists of two sessions in residence at Harvard: an 11-day winter session and a 6-day spring session. Learning formats include whole-group presentations, interactive exercises, problem-based learning, observations, reflective use of journals, and discussion in large and small groups. Whole-group sessions are held in a setting conducive to case-study learning and teaching. A variety of faculty-facilitated small-group formats are used to support learning from observation, to draw together scholars with common interests, and to further the development of each scholar’s back-home project for educational change. Each class day requires approximately two hours of prior reading or reflective preparation.

When scholars leave the winter session, they are linked to program faculty who will follow the progress of projects between sessions. During the spring residence at Harvard, the scholars will report on the development of their projects, analyze their experiences, and formulate new strategies for their institutions. Formal coursework in May will build on discussions begun in January and will emphasize the participants role in leading innovations at the level of a course, a department, and an institution.


On the Leading Innovations Program, "I attended the meeting after having already been involved in several innovations around the development of new medical schools in 4 countries, sometimes at leadership level, and so was more experienced than some other attendees. However, I still found the meeting to be very useful. I was able to immerse myself for a week in other kinds of thinking and encouraged to consider how to translate concepts into medical education. The small group exercises allowed us to discuss the meaning of other models and theories and to merge, translate and develop potentially new ways of approaching familiar tasks. Group membership was deliberately diverse, so I was constantly having to think about things from the perspectives of different levels of experience and different health and education systems. For me the main benefit came in the weeks after the meeting, as I returned to my usual job but continued to reflect on the discussions during the meeting and thought throughways of applying what I had learned. I have since changed the way I work by increasing my focus on leading, rather than implementing, change."

Richard Hays, M.D., Dean, School of Medicine, Keele University, UK


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