Harvard Macy Community Blog

Fostering the ongoing connectedness of health professions educators committed to transforming health care delivery and education.

Removing the Sage from the Stage: Blending Case- and Problem- Based Learning in Graduate Biomedical Research Education

Though those trained in business, law, and medicine are no strangers to active learning techniques in the classroom, scholars in graduate biomedical research programs are still frequently taught using passive lecture-based techniques. This is challenging for many pre-doctoral and master’s level students, who will spend the bulk of their training years conducting inquiry-based research. They are inherently curious and learn best through hands-on techniques. I say this as an individual for whom a single case-based course during my graduate biomedical research training not only vastly improved my educational experience as a student, but also dramatically changed my views on what biomedical research education was and could be.

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“Good job, read more:” Making positive feedback truly positive

When I see “good job, read more” on a learner’s assessment form, I chuckle because I have most certainly received that feedback before, as have many other health professional trainees. To some educators, this appears to be effective reinforcing feedback, but a larger number of educators cringe on seeing that phrase, because neither did it take much effort to write those four words, nor does this feedback help a learner improve and grow.

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Jumping down the rabbit hole: Questions to chase in medical education

For some time now, I have been contemplating the kinds of questions we ask in health professions education (HPE). These ruminations began in 2010 when I was working on a paper about my medical school’s efforts to implement an educational innovation. Truth be told, I had a real problem. My study was supposed to be an evaluation of the innovation’s implementation; however, the data highlighted all the workarounds we constructed to make the innovation fit within our contextual constraints. How could I evaluate our implementation of the innovation when I was no longer confident that what we had implemented was still an exemplar of the original innovation?I found myself asking questions like: Why do we value this innovation? Why is our implementation an example of the innovation at work? How much can I change the innovation before I turn it into something else?

I started searching the literature to find insights into these questions. Surely other HPE scholars have had similar concerns. Surely I would not be the first to venture down this rabbit hole. Right

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Gregg Wells

looking to companion research ...

Excellent! Understanding Why's of learning helps us improve and innovate around the many How's in HPE.Research areas that are com... Read More
Tuesday, 24 September 2019 11:11 PM
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September #MedEdPearl – Small Group Instructional Diagnosis

Even though it seems classes just started, it is time to prepare for mid-semester evaluations. Unlike evaluations at the end of the semester, mid-semester evaluations are great tools to provide feedback to the instructor in time for adjustments to be made. This semester, consider a SGID—Small Group Instructional Diagnosis. A SGID is a short, 20-minute formative assessment activity that involves having a trained facilitator meet with student focus groups to discuss what’s working, what needs improvement, possible changes to the course, and how students see they are meeting course learning objectives. 

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Inclusive Health Professions Education

Inclusive Learning

On April 5th, 2019, I had the pleasure of attending a workshop, “Building an Inclusive Classroom,” sponsored by the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning at Stanford University. The guest speaker was Sherryl Broverman, PhD, from the Duke Global Health Institute and Duke University Department of Biology. Everything that follows is credited to her and represents a tiny glimpse into her outstanding presentation.

The workshop started with the class divided into groups of 5-7 individuals that were given arts and crafts supplies and asked to complete a creative task. When finished, we compared our work between the tables and noticed striking differences. Dr. Broverman set the stage for our discussion by asking, “How do we organize our classrooms so that teaching activities, student performance, and evaluations don’t codify and reinforce existing privilege and social capital?”

Some students did not understand the prompt that described the assigned task.

Some groups were given more supplies than others. They completed more intricate and interesting crafts than groups with less resources.

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