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Concept: Educational philosophy


BACKGROUND: Problem-based learning (PBL) has become the most significant innovation in medical education of the past 40 years. In contrast to exam-centred, lecture-based conventional curricula, PBL is a comprehensive curricular strategy that fosters student-centred learning and the skills desired in physicians. The rapid spread of PBL has produced many variants. One of the most common is ‘hybrid PBL’ where conventional teaching methods are implemented alongside PBL. This paper contends that the mixing of these two opposing educational philosophies can undermine PBL and nullify its positive benefits. Schools using hybrid PBL and lacking medical education expertise may end up with a dysfunctional curriculum worse off than the traditional approach. DISCUSSION: For hybrid PBL schools with a dysfunctional curriculum, standard PBL is a cost-feasible option that confers the benefits of the PBL approach. This paper describes the signs of a dysfunctional PBL curriculum to aid hybrid PBL schools in recognising curricular breakdown. Next it discusses alternative curricular strategies and costs associated with PBL. It then details the four critical factors for successful conversion to standard PBL: dealing with staff resistance, understanding the role of lectures, adequate time for preparation and support from the administrative leadership. SUMMARY: Hybrid PBL curricula without oversight by staff with medical education expertise can degenerate into dysfunctional curricula inferior even to the traditional approach from which PBL emerged. Such schools should inspect their curriculum periodically for signs of dysfunction to enable timely corrective action. A decision to convert fully to standard PBL is cost feasible but will require time, expertise and commitment which is only sustainable with supportive leadership.

Concepts: Education, Physician, Educational psychology, College, School, Curriculum, Curricula, Educational philosophy


Cooperative learning provides an important vehicle for active learning, as knowledge is socially constructed through interaction with others. This study investigated the effect of cooperative learning on occupational therapy (OT) theory knowledge attainment in professional-level OT students in a classroom environment. Using a pre- and post-test group design, 24 first-year, entry-level OT students participated while taking a theory course in their second semester of the program. Cooperative learning methods were implemented via in-class group assignments. The students were asked to complete two questionnaires regarding their attitudes toward group environments and their perception toward group learning before and after the semester. MANCOVA was used to examine changes in attitudes and perceived learning among groups. Students' summary sheets for each in-class assignment and course evaluations were collected for content analysis. Results indicated significant changes in students' attitude toward working in small groups regardless of their prior group experience.

Concepts: Psychology, Understanding, Education, Learning, Study skills, Knowledge, Educational philosophy, Learning methods


Just as we depend on medical science and research to treat patients, we should connect our teaching methods to educational theory and research. In particular, the foundations of adult education philosophy and adult learning theories can be deliberately applied to further strengthen the clinical learning experience of physician assistants (PAs). We propose that PA educators should be aware of how their personal philosophy of education affects their teaching practice. In addition, educators should apply learning theories to both classroom process and content. We provide an overview of 5 categories of learning philosophy (liberal, progressive, behavioral, humanist, and radical) and 6 learning theories (experiential learning, reflective practice, situated learning, communities of practice, transformative learning, and critical consciousness) of adult education. Concrete examples of how to apply adult education theory to meet specific learning objectives for PA students are described. Understanding how to apply learning theory and identify and shape one’s educational philosophy provides theoretical and empirical support for what we often deem an intuitive process.

Concepts: Scientific method, Psychology, Education, Educational psychology, Learning, Theory, Education theory, Educational philosophy


When preparing young medical students for clinical activity, it is indispensable to acquaint them with anatomical section images which enable them to use the clinical application of imaging methods A new Augmented Reality Magic Mirror (AR MM) system, which provides the advantage of a novel, interactive learning tool in addition to a regular dissection course, was therefore tested and evaluated by 880 first-year medical students as part of the macroscopic anatomy course in 2015/16 at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universit√§t (LMU) in Munich. The system consists of an RGB-D sensor as a real-time tracking device, which enables the system to link a deposited section image to the projection of the user’s body, as well as a large display mimicking a real-world physical mirror. Using gesture input, the users have the ability to interactively explore radiological images in different anatomical intersection planes. We designed a tutorial during which students worked with the system in groups of about 12 and evaluated the results. Subsequently, each participant was asked to assess the system’s value by filling out a Likert-scale questionnaire. The respondents approved all statements which stressed the potential of the system to serve as an additional learning resource for anatomical education. In this case, emphasis was put on active learning, 3-dimensional understanding, and a better comprehension of the course of structures. We are convinced that such an AR MM system can be beneficially installed into anatomical education in order to prepare medical students more effectively for the clinical standards and for more interactive, student-centered learning.

Concepts: Medicine, Biology, Education, Educational psychology, Anatomy, Medical school, Curricula, Educational philosophy


Undergraduate introductory biology courses are changing based on our growing understanding of how students learn and rapid scientific advancement in the biological sciences. At Iowa State University, faculty instructors are transforming a second-semester large-enrollment introductory biology course to include active learning within the lecture setting. To support this change, we set up a faculty learning community (FLC) in which instructors develop new pedagogies, adapt active-learning strategies to large courses, discuss challenges and progress, critique and revise classroom interventions, and share materials. We present data on how the collaborative work of the FLC led to increased implementation of active-learning strategies and a concurrent improvement in student learning. Interestingly, student learning gains correlate with the percentage of classroom time spent in active-learning modes. Furthermore, student attitudes toward learning biology are weakly positively correlated with these learning gains. At our institution, the FLC framework serves as an agent of iterative emergent change, resulting in the creation of a more student-centered course that better supports learning.

Concepts: Better, Improve, Biology, Life, Education, Ethology, Educational philosophy, Iowa


Life course theory suggests that exposures during critical or sensitive periods have particularly profound effects on health. Most research on this subject has focused on the occurrence of such windows early in life. We investigated whether perimenopause, a period of dramatic neuroendocrine changes at midlife, represents a sensitive period for response to stress by evaluating the relation of perceived stress to fibrinogen, a biomarker for inflammation.

Concepts: Menopause, Sociology, Menstrual cycle, Critical period, Educational philosophy


This article describes the development and implementation of a flipped classroom model to promote student-centered learning as part of a predoctoral dental course. This model redesigns the traditional lecture-style classroom into a blended learning model that combines active learning pedagogy with instructional technology and “flips” the sequence so that students use online resources to learn content ahead of class and then use class time for discussion. The dental anatomy portion of a second-year DMD course at Harvard School of Dental Medicine was redesigned using the flipped classroom model. The 36 students in the course viewed online materials before class; then, during class, small groups of students participated in peer teaching and team discussions based on learning objectives under the supervision of faculty. The utilization of pre- and post-class quizzes as well as peer assessments were critical motivating factors that likely contributed to the increase in student participation in class and helped place learning accountability on the students. Student feedback from a survey after the experience was generally positive with regard to the collaborative and interactive aspects of this form of blended learning.

Concepts: Education, Educational psychology, Learning, Educational technology, Pedagogy, Critical pedagogy, Curricula, Educational philosophy


The purpose of this study was to compare student perceptions regarding two, small group learning approaches to compressed (46.5 prosection-based laboratory hours), integrated anatomy education at the University of Ottawa medical program. In the facilitated active learning (FAL) approach, tutors engage students and are expected to enable and balance both active learning and progression through laboratory objectives. In contrast, the emphasized independent learning (EIL) approach stresses elements from the “flipped classroom” educational model: prelaboratory preparation, independent laboratory learning, and limited tutor involvement. Quantitative (Likert-style questions) and qualitative data (independent thematic analysis of open-ended commentary) from a survey of students who had completed the preclerkship curriculum identified strengths from the EIL (promoting student collaboration and communication) and FAL (successful progression through objectives) approaches. However, EIL led to student frustration related to a lack of direction and impaired completion of objectives, whereas active learning opportunities in FAL were highly variable and dependent on tutor teaching style. A “hidden curriculum” was also identified, where students (particularly EIL and clerkship students) commonly compared their compressed anatomy education or their anatomy learning environment with other approaches. Finally, while both groups highly regarded the efficiency of prosection-based learning and expressed value for cadaveric-based learning, student commentary noted that the lack of grade value dedicated to anatomy assessment limited student accountability. This study revealed critical insights into small group learning in compressed anatomy education, including the need to balance student active learning opportunities with appropriate direction and feedback (including assessment). Anat Sci Educ. ¬© 2015 American Association of Anatomists.

Concepts: Psychology, Education, Educational psychology, University, Learning, Student, Curriculum, Educational philosophy


Most health education specialists have been introduced to the idea of having a philosophy of education statement. Although some in the field have been writing about this career development exercise, little has been written about the process of developing one’s philosophy of education statement. This brief essay explains a sample process health education specialists can use to create or update their philosophy of education statement. The author gives a firsthand account of a systematic, disciplined, intellectually liberating, and reflective approach to articulating one’s philosophy of education statement, by considering the writings of select intellectual giants who have acted on human experience, thought, and practice in education. A philosophy of education statement should be useful to any health education specialist regardless of type of work, site, position in the organization, population served, or health topic. The resultant updated and precisely written statement serves to sharpen a health education specialist’s future role as a health educator, as well as contribute to his or her journey in lifelong learning.

Concepts: Psychology, Human, Educational psychology, Learning, Writing, Health education, Creative writing, Educational philosophy