Collaborative education created a new model for researchers to assess teaching methods

April 28, 2010

By developing a collaborative team mentored approach to learning through the Medical Education Research Certificate (MERC), a committee of experienced medical education researchers created a new model that makes it possible to conduct the scientific studies needed to assess the effectiveness of medical teaching methods, Wendy Coates, MD, a Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute (LA BioMed) principal investigator writes in a study published today in Academic Medicine.

First developed in 2004 by the Association for American Medical Colleges' Group on Educational Affairs, MERC provides a curriculum to help medical educators acquire or enhance skills in medical education research, and to create better consumers of medical education scholarship. Traditionally, MERC courses are offered to individuals during educational meetings.

In response to a perceived need to enhance educational scholarship in Emergency Medicine, a planning committee of experienced medical education researchers who are also board-certified, full-time Emergency Medical faculty members designed a novel approach to the MERC curriculum: a mentored team approach to learning, grounded in collaborative medical education research projects. The planning committee, which was commissioned by the Council of Emergency Medicine Residency Directors (CORD), identified areas of research interest among participants and formed working groups to collaborate on research projects during standard MERC workshops.

Rather than focusing on individual questions during the course, each mentored group identified a single study hypothesis. After completing the first three workshops, group members worked under their mentors' guidance on their multi-institutional research projects.

"Prior to this, it was difficult to draw conclusions about the effectiveness of an educational program because it was usually provided by an individual teacher instructing a small group, which made the sample size too small to measure or extrapolate to other groups of learners," said Dr. Coates, the author of the study. "By using a collaborative mentored team approach to learning how to conduct research in medical education, we were able to design studies that could be conducted at multiple institutions, creating a large enough sample of students and teachers so that future educators and researchers could measure the effectiveness of the educational programs."

She said this model will make it possible for researchers to apply the same scientific rigor to studying that is used in other scientific inquiries, producing data that could ultimately improve medical training and the care physicians provide to patients.

"With proven results from a particular teaching method, we can know that method is effective one for training a particular procedure or approach to treating a patient," she said. "By ensuring we're employing the most effective educational methods, we can improve patient safety and medical outcomes."

Explore further: Boys learn better when creative approaches to teaching are used

More information: The study is entitled "Faculty Development in Medical Education Research: A Cooperative Model" and appears in the current issue of Academic Medicine, a peer-reviewed medical education journal.

Related Stories

Group: Stop using pigs in medical schools

January 29, 2008

An animal rights group has sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture calling on U.S. colleges to stop killing pigs for educational purposes.

Professional Development Key to Improving Math Achievement

December 4, 2008

( -- Teachers have a greater impact than new textbooks or computers when it comes to raising math scores, according to a comprehensive research review by the Johns Hopkins University School of Education's Center ...

Researchers recommend curriculum on unhealthy substance use

March 15, 2010

Educational leaders from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) believe teaching the subject of unhealthy substance use must be incorporated into internal medicine residency training and can be done within existing teaching ...

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

( -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.