Pre-health Collection: Help for Interdisciplinary Courses

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Title of Abstract: Pre-health Collection: Help for Interdisciplinary Courses

Name of Author: Jen Page
Author Company or Institution: AAMC
Author Title: Manager, MCAT Preparation Products
PULSE Fellow: No
Applicable Courses: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, General Biology, Physiology & Anatomy
Course Levels: Across the Curriculum, Introductory Course(s)
Approaches: Material Development
Keywords: Interdisciplinary, scientific inquiry skills, pre-health, teaching examples

Goals and intended outcomes of the project or effort, in the context of the Vision and Change report and recommendations: The Pre-health Collection within MedEdPORTAL’s iCollaborative is a free, open-access set of undergraduate teaching resources from across the disciplines of biology, chemistry, biochemistry, physics, psychology and sociology - all of which are important to building the foundational knowledge and skills for further study in health. The teaching resources support undergraduate faculty prepare or revise courses that are interdisciplinary, and teach scientific inquiry and reasoning skills, as recommended by the Vision and Change Report. The goal of the project is to support innovation in undergraduate curriculum, particularly biology curriculum, by providing access to teaching materials that can be used to revise and enhance existing curriculum or develop new courses.

Describe the methods and strategies that you are using: In today’s resource constrained institutions, time for innovation is limited. By providing easy to find, free resources that exemplify good pedagogy and interdisciplinary real-world problem-solving, we believe individual faculty, departments and entire institutions can more easily take steps to implement curriculum change. Students will benefit from new curriculum in the classroom, they may also benefit by using the Pre-health Collection resources for independent study. The Pre-health Collection within MedEdPORTAL’s iCollaborative was launched in August 2012 with 75 resources reviewed and cataloged by an expert review board. Work has begun on building a community of users that will submit resources that they have authored themselves or refer favorite resources created by others. The Pre-health Collection encompasses content from six disciplines (biology, chemistry, biochemistry, physics, psychology and sociology) related to the pre-health competencies important to future study of medicine and other health professions. Each resource is reviewed by a member of the review board to determine its relevance to the collection and quality of the resource before being posted online. The user community can share comments online about each resource, further enhancing the value of the collection.

Describe the evaluation methods that you used (or intended to use) to determine whether the project or effort achieved the desired goals and outcomes: The success of the Pre-health Collection will be measured by the number of resources submitted to the collection and the use and adoption of the resources provided. We will be tracking and evaluating the number of site visitors, number of resources accessed, number of user comments on resources and qualitative feedback to evaluate the impact of the project.

Impacts of project or effort on students, fellow faculty, department or institution. If no time to have an impact, anticipated impacts: The Pre-health Collection within MedEdPORTAL’s iCollaborative will provide faculty and institutions with free access to examples of teaching resources that exemplify the Vision & Change recommendations. These resources not only serve as models, but are open-access resources that can be used in the classroom to enhance a class or provide supplemental resources to implement new strategies such as the flipped classroom model. Lowering the time and cost to try out innovation will hopefully remove some of the barriers to implementing curriculum change, particularly in resource constrained environments.

Describe any unexpected challenges you encountered and your methods for dealing with them: Among the barriers that need to be overcome to ensure the success of the project are developing a community of active contributors and users and amassing a significant collection of resources. Undergraduate faculty may not perceive pre-health content as relevant to their teaching, though many of their students are interested in a career in health. Busy faculty may lack the time or motivation to submit resources, even when prizes are available. Potential users of the resources may not recognize the relevance of the collection to their teaching, may lack motivation to comment on resources used and refer other resources authored by someone else that they find useful. These barriers will be overcome by collaborating with the pre-health advisor and medical school community who can engage undergraduate faculty in participating. In addition, we are engaging with the professional societies to make connections between this project and faculty engaged in curriculum innovation to encourage sharing of resources and creating links to existing open-access repositories to broaden the reach of the project.

Describe your completed dissemination activities and your plans for continuing dissemination: To help scale up the resources in the Pre-health Collection within MedEdPORTAL’s iCollaborative and build a national user community, a national call for submissions went out in early 2013 that will offer awards to the top resources by discipline. The project is also considering special calls for submission of content related to specific scientific inquiry and reasoning skills or a foundational concept in order to develop a strong user community around a particular area of excellence. While it would be ideal to have all submissions come directly from authors, the referral strategy will help to accelerate the pace at which teaching resources are added to the collection.

Acknowledgements: This project is possible with support from the Association of American Medical Colleges with input from the staff of the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT), as well as our team of undergraduate faculty reviewers.