Doctors, patients, ritual and showing up

Ritual is a big part of life; this is especially evident at universities at this time of year. I recently took part in the ritual of attending convocation at another university to watch my daughter receive her Bachelor of Health Sciences degree. In addition to the parental joy of seeing my daughter on stage for about six seconds of hooding and handshaking, I had the pleasure of hearing the convocation speaker, Dr. Abraham Verghese, a physician, author and professor at Stanford School of Medicine.

The importance of ritual, both in life and in particular in the doctor-patient relationship, is something Dr. Verghese is passionate about. He’s written about this, presented TED talks, and, late last month, incorporated this message into his convocation address at McMaster University.

Dr. Abraham Verghese (Screenshot from webcast)

Dr. Verghese noted that it’s possible to get your degree without attending the ceremony, but “rituals matter.” He added: “It says something about you that you believe in this ritual, that you showed up, because showing up for rituals that matter is perhaps the best advice I can give you.”

He acknowledged that he was speaking from “the vantage point of a window of practicing medicine” but hoped his message about ritual would resonate with everyone. He pointed out that the very ritual of convocation itself makes no sense in other contexts: “You’re dressed in a way that you otherwise never dress like. And I’m dressed as I rarely dress. With distinguished faculty on the stage, you marched in proceeded by a beadle carrying the mace, an instrument of battle that’s also a metaphor of power.”

“Our anthropology colleagues teach us that rituals are all about crossing a threshold,” he explained. “They represent a transformation, whether it’s a baptism, or a bar mitzvah, an inauguration, a funeral, a graduation.”

He challenged the graduates to consider what the rituals are in their lives, in their work, before sharing insight into his own understanding of ritual in his medical practice:

“If you think about the usual clinic visits, two strangers are often coming together, one person in the room will be wearing this white shamanistic outfit with tools in their pockets, and the other individual will be wearing a paper gown that no one knows how to tie or untie. The furniture in the room looks nothing like the furniture in your house or mine. The individual in the paper gown will then begin to tell the other one things that they would never tell their rabbi, or their preacher, and in my specialty of infectious disease, they will tell me things they would never tell their spouse. And then, incredibly, they will disrobe and allow touch, which in any other context in society would be assault, but the physician gets the privilege in the setting of this ritual.”

He further explained that this is not unique to any one culture. “I care for people from all kinds of ethnic groups, and I’m struck by how many different beliefs they have about illness, about disease, about treatment, but they all know about ritual,” he said. “And you put them in that room with all its setup and they know they’re about to embark in a ritual and if you do it poorly, if you just do a prod of their belly, and stick your stethoscope on the gown, they’re on to you, they can tell when you’re doing it well just as you can tell when you’re in the hands of a thoughtful barista, a good chef, a good hairdresser, a good mechanic.

“Rituals, done well, signify people who are doing their jobs well.”

Rituals can also be transformative, he said. “I learned this firsthand in the early years of the AIDS epidemic before we had any treatment,” he said, recalling a young man who he had followed for months at the clinic and who was now dying in the hospital.

“Each day I would come to his bedside and I’d visit him and I’d talk to his mother, and not knowing what else to do in this sacred hallowed space that surrounded him with his mother holding vigil, after a while, I would begin to examine him, albeit briefly. I would listen to his heart, I would percuss his lungs, feel his abdomen, feel his spleen, even though it was very unlikely I would discover anything that would change what we did,” he said.

“I engaged in this ritual out of habit, relieved that it gave me something to do, some purpose at the bedside.”

“One day, when I came by, his mother, that eternal figure there, told me that he’d not spoken or come to consciousness since the previous noon. It seemed certain that he was about to die, and in fact, he did pass away a few hours later,” Dr. Verghese continued. “But strangely, at that moment, as he heard us talking, as he heard my voice, we saw his hands begin to move. She was astonished, ‘cause she had not seen anything before. And I was astonished, and we’re wondering what is he gonna do? And we saw his skeletal fingers flutter up and then move to this wicker basket of a chest of his. And it took us a while to understand that he was fumbling with his pajama buttons. He was trying to unbutton his shirt, he was reflexively allowing me the privilege of examining him, giving me permission. I tell you, I did not decline the gift.”

“I percussed, I palpated, I listened to his heart, his lungs. I felt connected to the timeless message the physician conveys, the same message the horse and buggy doctor, riding out to towns on the western edge of Lake Ontario 150, 200 years ago, conveyed to his or her patients of that era, when there was so little to offer,” he said.

“The message is that beyond the data, beyond the evidence or lack of evidence, beyond the medicines that stop working, here I am and no matter what, I care, I will be there with you through thick and thin, I will not stop coming, I will show up.”

Dr. Verghese then spoke about emerging artificial intelligence and how it will change medicine.

“Here’s what’s not going to change, is the need for human beings to care for each other,” he said.

“We all need it in every walk of life, but especially in the care of the sick. I’m hoping that in my field, artificial intelligence will free us from some of the drudgery of medical record keeping and allow us to fulfill the Samaritan function of being a physician, to minister to those who suffer,” he added.

He exhorted the graduates to “embrace the rituals of your life, be conscious of them.”

“Be in charge and be cognizant of those human values and rituals that you want to preserve,” he added. “Remember that fluttering hand of the dying patient, I remember it every single day.”

Unlike machines, he said, “You can care, you can love, you can preserve the rituals that showcase these things. And you can show up. Always show up.”


You can watch Dr. Verghese’s full address here. It begins around 29:05.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Queen’s UGME well-represented at CCME

Queen’s UGME was well-represented in the oral and poster presentations at the recent Canadian Conference on Medical Education (CCME) held in Winnipeg, MB.

Four oral presentations showcased UG work with another oral highlighting a teaching innovation in the QuARMS Program while a dozen posters featured Queen’s UG research and innovations featuring work by faculty, students, and staff.

As explained on the CCME website, “the purpose of the CCME is to highlight, and allow participants to benefit from, developments in medical education and to promote academic medicine by establishing an annual forum for medical educators and their many partners to meet and exchange ideas.”

The Queen’s oral presentations included:

  • The Next SSTEP: The Surgical Skills and Technology Elective Program decreases cognitive load during suturing tasks in 2nd year medical students by Henry Ajzenberg, Peter Wang, Adam Mosa, Frances Dang, Tyson Savage, Peter Thin Vo, Justin Wang, Stephen Mann, Andrea Winthrop
  • The Newborn Book – An evaluation of an interactive eBook as course material by Lauren Friedman, Jonathan Cluett, Bob Connelly
  • Altering the scoring of global rating scales on an Undergraduate OSCE: Does it affect the identification of candidates with borderline performance? By Michelle Gibson, Eleni Katsoulas, Stefan Merchant, Andrea Winthrop
  • Sampling Patient Experience to Assess Communication (SPEAC): A Targeted Needs Assessment by Adam Mosa, Andrea Winthrop, Sachin Pasricha, Eleni Katsoulas
  • Fireside chats – High Impact Informal Learning by Jennifer MacKenzie, McMaster University, Theresa Nowlan-Suart, Anthony Sanfilippo

Posters, presented both during facilitated poster sessions and the new, dedicated poster session, included:

  • An Inter-professional, Cross-cultural Service Learning Project: Development of a Nutrition Education Program in Rural Tanzanian Schools by Jenn Carpenter, Queen’s University, Donna Clarke-McMullen, Renee Berquist, Saint Lawrence College
  • Pathways to community service learning: The Queen’s Service-Learning Framework by Lindsay Davidson and Theresa Nowlan Suart
  • Introducing Medical Students to Stories of Indigenous Patients by Lindsay Davidson, Melanie Walker, Steven Tresierra, Jennifer McCall, Michael Green, Laura Maracle,
  • Predictors of medical student engagement in an e-Portfolio for intrinsic CanMEDS roles by Steven Bae, Danielle LaPointe-McEwan, Sheila Pinchin, Anthony Sanfilippo, John Freeman, Queen’s University Ulemu Luhanga, Emory University Jennifer MacKenzie, McMaster University
  • Evaluating the effectiveness of the First Patient Program’s use of resources in achieving learning objectives for medical students by Stephanie Chan, Vincent Wu, Sheila Pinchin, Phillip Wattam, Leslie Flynn
  • Evaluation of a multi-modality nutrition program for first year medical students by Andrea Guerin, Theresa Nowlan Suart, Shannon Willmott, Karen Kaur Grewal
  • Assessing the Effect of the Eye Matching System on Clinical Competency with the Ophthalmoscope in Medical Students by Etienne Benard-Seguin, Jason Kwok, Walter Liao, Stephanie Baxter
  • Curriculum to Cookbook by Moncia Mullin, Meghan Bhatia, Renee Fitzpatrick, Shelia Pinchin
  • The CFMS National Wellness Challenge: evaluating a new initiative to promote development of healthy habits in medical professionals by Alyssa Lip, Renee Fitzpatrick
  • Ontario Medical Students Association Wellness Retreat: A Program Evaluation by Shannon Chun, Renée Fitzpatrick, Queen’s University, Christine Prudhoe, University of Ottawa
  • Evaluating Student’s Perspective of Team-Based Learning In Undergraduate Medical Education by Kate Trebuss, Vincent Wu, Jordan Goodridge, Gemma Cramarossa, Lindsay Davidson
  • Preclerkship Interprofessional Observerships: What I Know Now by Shannon Willmott, Ameir Makar, Etienne Benard-Seguin, Sarah Edgerley, Lindsay Davidson

Next year’s conference is set for April 28 – May 1 in Halifax, NS. The abstract submission portal is already open. Find it here.

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Singers, dancers, musicians & a dean: It’s MVN!

It’s Medical Variety Night (MVN) time of year at the School of Medicine and UGME students have been putting in long hours of practice and preparation. And they’re not the only ones – this year the show includes a feature performance by Faculty of Health Sciences Dean Richard Reznick.

Co-director Manisha Tilak (2019) says you’ll have to show up to see the Dean’s act – no other information is being shared. “He’s actually in an act, though, it’s not just that he’ll be attending,” she adds.

Tilak and co-directors Andrew McNaughton (2019), Edrea Khong (2020) and Daisy Liu (2020) have been hard at work since September to ensure the success of this year’s show. This year’s theme is The Phantom of the Operation.

Dancers in the now-traditional Bollywood number have been in rehearsal since November. Auditions for the other acts were held around the same time. There will be music solos, duos and trios as well as the class skits. Other dance numbers will feature Hip hop and Swing.

While the show may have a few ‘culture of medicine’ in-jokes, it’s designed to be interesting and entertaining for everyone.

This is the 47th incarnation of the Medical Variety Night, which benefits local charities. This year, proceeds are being donated to Almost Home, which provides accommodations for families with children receiving medical treatment at Kingston area hospitals.

“The most fun part comes the night of the show when you see all the hard work pay off and everyone enjoying themselves,” Tilak noted. Also, the tally at the end of the night: “When we’re able to send a good donation to the Almost Home.”

The show will take place April 7 and 8 at Duncan McArthur Hall, 511 Union Street, Kingston. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are available online (buy them here: https://mvn2017.squarespace.com) and at the door.

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Singers, dancers, musicians & a dean: It’s MVN!

It’s Medical Variety Night (MVN) time of year at the School of Medicine and UGME students have been putting in long hours of practice and preparation. And they’re not the only ones – this year the show includes a feature performance by Faculty of Health Sciences Dean Richard Reznick.

Co-director Manisha Tilak (2019) says you’ll have to show up to see the Dean’s act – no other information is being shared. “He’s actually in an act, though, it’s not just that he’ll be attending,” she adds.

Tilak and co-directors Andrew McNaughton (2019), Edrea Khong (2020) and Daisy Liu (2020) have been hard at work since September to ensure the success of this year’s show. This year’s theme is The Phantom of the Operation.

Dancers in the now-traditional Bollywood number have been in rehearsal since November. Auditions for the other acts were held around the same time. There will be music solos, duos and trios as well as the class skits. Other dance numbers will feature Hip hop and Swing.

While the show may have a few ‘culture of medicine’ in-jokes, it’s designed to be interesting and entertaining for everyone.

This is the 47th incarnation of the Medical Variety Night, which benefits local charities. This year, proceeds are being donated to Almost Home, which provides accommodations for families with children receiving medical treatment at Kingston area hospitals.

“The most fun part comes the night of the show when you see all the hard work pay off and everyone enjoying themselves,” Tilak noted. Also, the tally at the end of the night: “When we’re able to send a good donation to the Almost Home.”

The show will take place April 7 and 8 at Duncan McArthur Hall, 511 Union Street, Kingston. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are available online (buy them here: https://mvn2017.squarespace.com) and at the door.

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Decoding Learning Event Types

Tucked on the right-hand side of every Learning Event Page on MEdTech are notations about the date & time and location of the class, followed by the length of the session and then the “Breakdown” of how the time will be spent. In other words: the learning event type.

We use 14 learning event types* in the UGME program. The identification of a learning event type indicates the type of teaching and learning experience to be expected at that session.

Broadly speaking, our learning event types can be divided into two categories: Content Delivery and Content Application.

For content delivery, students are presented with core knowledge and/or skills with specific direction and/or commentary from an expert teacher. Content delivery learning events include:

  • Directed Independent Learning (DIL) — these are independent learning sessions which are assigned curricular time. Typically students are expected to spend up to double the assigned time to complete the tasks – i.e. some of the work may occur in “homework time”. DIL’s have a specific structure and must include:
    • Specific learning objectives
    • A resource or set of resources chosen by the teacher
    • Teacher guidance indicating the task or particular focus that is required of students. This may be a formal assignment, informal worksheet or study guide.
    • The session must link to a subsequent content application session
    • Formative testing in the form of MCQ or reflective questions are an optional component of DILs
  • Lecture – Whole class session which is largely teacher-directed. We encourage the use of case illustrations during lectures, however these alone do not fulfil the criteria for content application or active learning.
  • Demonstration – Session where a skill or technique is demonstrated to students.

For content application (sometimes described as “active learning”), students work in teams or individually to use and clarify previously-acquired knowledge, usually while working through case-based problems. These learning event types include:

  • Small group learning (SGL): Students work in teams to solve case-base problems which are revealed progressively. Simultaneous reporting and facilitated inter-team discussion is a key component of this learning strategy which is modeled on Team-based learning. SGL cases may be preceded by in class readiness assessment testing (RAT) done individually and then as a team. This serves to debrief the preparation and provide for individual accountability for preparation.
  • Facilitated small group learning (FSGL)Students work in teams and with a faculty tutor to solve case-base problems which are revealed progressively. While there is structure to FSGL cases, students are encouraged to seek out and share knowledge based on individual research.
  • Simulation: Session where students participate in a simulated procedure or clinical encounter.
  • Case-based Instruction (CBI): Session where students interact with guest patients and/or health care providers who share their experience. Builds on prior learning and often includes interactive Q+A component.
  • Laboratory: Hands-on or simulated exercises in which learners collect or use data to test and/or verify hypotheses or to address questions about principles and/or phenomena, such as Anatomy Labs.

The other learning event types we use don’t fit as neatly into the content delivery/content application algorithm. These include:

  • Clerkship seminar – instruction provided to a learner or small group of learners by direct interaction with an instructor. Depending on design, clerkship seminars may be either content delivery or content application.
  • Self-Directed Learning (SDL) is scheduled time set aside for students to take the initiative for their own learning. A minimum of eight hours per week (pro-rated in short weeks) is designated SDL time.
  • Peer Teaching is learner-to-learner instruction for the mutual learning experience of both “teacher” and “learner” which includes active learning components. This includes sessions that require students to work together in small groups without a teaching, such as Being a Medical Student (BAMS) sessions, the Community Based Project and some Critical Enquiry sessions.
  • Career Counseling sessions, which provide guidance, direction and support; these may be in groups or one-on-one.

Two other notations you’ll see are “Other-curricular” and “Other—non-curricular”. Other—curricular is used for sessions that are directly linked to a course but that are not included in calculations of instructional methods. This includes things like examinations, post-exam reviews, and orientation sessions. Other—non-curricular are sessions of an administrative nature that are not directly linked to a particular course and are outside of curricular time, for example, class town hall meetings and optional events or conferences.

Incorporating a variety of learning event types in each course is important to ensure a balance of knowledge acquisition and application. Course plans are set by course directors with their year director, in consultation with the course teachers and with support from the UG Education Team and the Teaching, Learning, and Integration Committee (TLIC).


— With contributions from Lindsay Davidson, Director of Teaching, Learning, and Integration

*In 2015, Queen’s UGME adopted the MedBiquitous learning event naming conventions to ease sharing of data amongst institutions. For this reason, some  learning event type categories may be different from ones used here prior to 2015, or ones used at other, non-medical schools or medical schools which have not adopted these conventions.

 

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When your objective is to write learning objectives…

Several times over the last few weeks, I’ve had conversations with course directors and instructors about writing learning objectives.

Many people – from award-winning educators to rookies and everyone in between – find writing learning objectives a challenge. The typical advice of write out who will do what under what conditions is vague, so it’s often not very helpful.

“General” learning objectives – from our UGME Competency Framework, aka the Red Book* – are already assigned to your course, and possibly to your session by your course director.

The key task for instructors is to take these general objectives and annotate them with specific objectives for their sessions, including what level of learning, such as comprehension, application or analysis. (This is from something called “Bloom’s Taxonomy”, if you’re interested in the research behind this).

A natural starting point is: What do you want your learners to take away from your session?

Frequently the response is:

  •  “I want them to know….”
  •  “I want them to understand….”
  •  “I want them to be able to…”

Once you’ve wrestled something like this into sentences, I realize it’s disheartening to have someone like me come along and say, “Uh, no, that’s not up to scratch.”

What’s wrong with “know” and “understand”? Isn’t that exactly what we’d like our students to walk away with – knowledge, understanding, skills? Absolutely. The challenge with these so-called “bad objective verbs” is that we can’t measure them through assessment. How do we know they know?

That’s the starting point for writing a better learning objective. If you want to assess that students know something, how will you assess that?

For example, while we can’t readily assess if a learner “understands” a concept, we can assess whether they can “define”, “describe”, “analyze”, or “summarize” material.

Here’s my “secret” that I use all the time to write learning objectives – I can’t memorize anything to save my life, so I rely on what I informally call my Verb Cheat Sheet. The one I’ve used for many years was published by Washington Hospital Centre, Office of Continuing Medical Education. It list cognitive domains (levels) and suggests verbs for each one. There are many such lists available on the Internet if you search “learning objectives” (here’s another one that’s more colourful than my basic chart, below).

Screen shot 2017-01-16 at 2.43.06 PM

Well-written learning objectives can help learners focus on what material they need to learn and what level of mastery is expected. Well-written objectives can assist instructors in creating assessment questions by reminding you of the skills you want students to demonstrate.

Here’s my quick three step method to annotating your assigned objectives on your MEdTech Learning Event page with your learning-event specific objectives:

  1. Start with writing your know or understand statements: what do you want learners to know or understand after your session?
  2. Think about what level of understanding you want students to demonstrate and how you would measure that (scan the verb chart for ideas)
  3. Write a declarative sentence of your expectation of students’ abilities following your session. In your draft, start it off with “The learner will”. For example: The learner will identify the bones of the hand on a reference diagram. Your objective would be: “Identify the bones of the hand on a reference diagram.”

As a fourth step, feel free to email your draft objectives to me at theresa.suart@queensu.ca for review and assistance (if needed). I’m happy to help.

 


Table excerpted from Washington Hospital Center, Office of Continuing Medical Education’s “Behavioral Verbs for Writing Objectives in the Cognitive, Affective and Psychomotor Domains” (no date).

* The “Red Book” got its name because for the first edition (we’re now on the fourth), the card stock used for the cover was red. Over time, everyone started calling it the “Red Book”.

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Online modules can enhance curriculum content delivery

Do you want to build an eModule?

Online modules, or eModules, are one of the content delivery methods available for use in our UGME curriculum.

As with any content delivery method, the teacher’s job is to define objectives, then organize and deliver new content to students. Online modules can deliver content efficiently and creatively but they’re not without potential pitfalls, so planning is key.

Unlike traditional lectures, online modules can curate other online content like a museum exhibit: you can select useful works from others and present these with guidance. The potential pitfall here is if not done carefully, modules can be information overload.

Modules can have interactivity, such as multiple choice questions with automated feedback. This can help keep students engaged as they work through the new content. Remember, though, for UGME, we aren’t building complete online courses – our eModules are prefaces to in-class interactive case/problem-based learning.

Carefully created eModules can be particularly useful where there is no resource appropriate for this level of learner.

Using an online module to deliver new content means you can use classroom time for interactive problem-solving: having completed the module, students come in prepared to apply their new knowledge.

Online modules are intended to be fully integrated with the rest of the UG curriculum – they don’t stand alone, but are one tool to deliver content students later apply in other settings, both classroom and clinical. Modules used to deliver new content in pre-clerkship can later be used by students as review during particular clerkship rotations, for example.

Here are some examples of the types of online modules in use in Undergraduate Medicine:

We also have a newly-created MEdTech community “Queen’s UGME E-Curriculum” designed to provide links to all UGME online modules. (Requires MEdTech log-in to access). As it’s currently under construction, there may be a few modules missing at the moment.

To help avoid some of the pitfalls of online modules – such as content overload, not providing sufficient guidance for students, and lack of linkage to subsequent sessions, the Teaching, Learning, and Innovation Committee, the UGME Education Team, and EdTech have implemented a streamlined process for creating and adopting new eModules for the UGME curriculum.

The process starts with content creation and/or compilation, followed by design, then support and follow-up for incorporating the module in your teaching.

If you already have a good idea of what you’d like to do, you can use the form found here to start the process.

If you’d just like to brainstorm and talk about possibilities, feel free to get in touch with me at theresa.suart@queensu.ca or with Lindsay Davidson, TLIC Director (lindsay.davidson@queensu.ca)

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Fall Education Retreat set for December 6

The annual UGME Fall Education Retreat will be held December 6 with plenary and breakout sessions designed to help our faculty improve their teaching and assessment skills as well as to provide opportunities for networking and informal discussions.

The retreat brings together course directors from pre-clerkship and clerkship, unit leads, intrinsic role leads, and administrative staff who support the program. Session topics were developed based on course evaluation feedback, faculty team suggestions and accreditation priorities.

The full-day program will be held at the Donald Gordon Centre on Union Street.

New to the program, this year’s retreat will feature guest speaker Dr. Jay Rosenfield addressing the topic of The future of medical education in Canada and our places in it. Dr. Rosenfield is a professor of paediatrics (and former vice-dean, MD Program) at the University of Toronto and a Developmental Paediatrician at the Hospital for Sick Children and Holland-Bloorview Kids Rehab.

Associate Dean Dr. Tony Sanfilippo will provide an update on UGME news and initiatives and two other plenary sessions will address using a competency-based education lens to frame completion of Years 1 & 2 and incorporating principles of diversity in the curriculum.

Break-out workshops will address effective SGL sessions, Entrustable Professional Activities (EPAs) in clerkship, creating key features questions and improving resident teaching of clerks.

For more information and to register, click here.

  • Credits for Family Physicians: This Group Learning program meets the certification criteria of the College of Family Physicians of Canada and has been certified by Queen’s University for up to 5 Mainpro+ credits.
  • Credits for Specialists: This event is an Accredited Group Learning Activity (Section 1) as defined by the Maintenance of Certification Program of The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, and approved by Queen’s University, You may claim a maximum of 5 hours.
  •  Credits for Others: This is an accredited learning activity which provided up to 5 hours of Continuing Education
 

 

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How much course evaluation feedback is “just right”?

How much feedback is too much feedback? How much is just enough?

That’s a question both the Course and Faculty Evaluation Committee (CFRC) and our students have been exploring.

At present, students are required to complete a 15-question course evaluation for each course as they complete it. As well, they’re required to complete faculty evaluations for each faculty member who taught at least four hours during that course. For our pre-clerkship students, this translates into 24 courses over the first two years of our program. Some courses are divided into units for evaluation, so that further increases the evaluation load.

As noted in a recent CFRC report to the Curriculum Committee: “Response rates have dropped significantly during the previous academic year on all course and faculty evaluations. It is assumed that a major contributing factor to the fall is the number of evaluations students are being asked to complete.”

We won’t ever do away with student course evaluations as these provide valuable feedback for curricular improvements. The CFRC is interested, however, in reducing the evaluation workload for students while still collecting solid feedback.

After consulting with the Aesculapian Society, the CFRC has proposed that only a subset of students will be asked to complete course and faculty evaluations for each course. Remaining students will have the option to complete evaluations. (In other words, students will always be able to comment on any of their courses and faculty if they want to provide additional feedback).

To determine if this will result in greater compliance (and data adequate for evaluation purposes), the CFRC will pilot this procedure on several Term 2 and 4 courses. The pilot project (Reduced number of targeted respondents for course and faculty evaluations), was approved by the Curriculum Committee at its November meeting.

For the pilot, students in both Meds 2019 and 2020 will be divided into randomized groups of 25 students each. One group of 25 students will be assigned to complete evaluations for each of the courses in the pilot.

Courses included in the pilot will be:course-eval-screen-shot

Meds 2020

  • Meds 121 Fundamentals of Therapeutics
  • Meds 125 Blood and Coagulation
  • Meds 127 MSK

Meds 2019

  • Meds 240 Genitourinary and Reproduction
  • Meds 241 Gastroenterology and Surgery
  • Meds 245 Neurosciences
  • Meds 246 Psychiatry

All students will be asked to complete the term 2 and term 4 course and faculty evaluations for those courses not included in the pilot. Also, Course Directors for the targeted pilot courses will be asked to confirm if there are any faculty to be excluded from the reduced pool of respondents and included in a group to be completed by the entire class.

Results of the pilot will be reported to the Curriculum Committee in August 2017.

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Applying decluttering principles to learning event planning

My family and I recently relocated from a 2300-square-foot, five-bedroom house to an under-1100-square foot, three-bedroom townhouse to be closer to my son’s school and my office at Queen’s. This has required divesting ourselves of a great many belongings. Some things were easy (no more guest room = get rid of bedroom suite of furniture), but now we’re down to what home organizers call decluttering.

Decluttering is trendy; there are blogs and articles and entire shelves of books about this movement to pare down belongings to what is truly essential.

Near the beginning of my downsizing project, a colleague passed along a copy of one such book, Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. (Yes, there was some irony in acquiring a new book when I was purging others, but that’s another story).

In this bestselling book, Kondo sets out principles for determining how to declutter. Since I’m immersed in decluttering (and unpacking can be a mind-numbing task) I started thinking about applying Kondo’s principles to learning events.

Decluttering principle: Uncover what you want your space to be

Learning Event translation: Uncover what you want your learning event to be

What underlies this principle is visioning: think about what it is you want your sj-bubblegirllearning event to look like before you start making changes. What do you need and want to accomplish in your 60- or 120-minute session? What are your assigned learning objectives? Keep in mind this planning cannot be a solo activity as your events are connected to others – course directors need to balance topics and learning event types throughout a course, so check in with anyone impacted by changes you’re thinking about making. Do you want to add interactive components? Revise case studies? Improve group work? Streamline the order of MCC presentations?

 Decluttering principle: Only keep those items that give you a “spark of joy”

Learning Event translation: Only keep those activities that spark learning

Take a good look at the activities and materials you’re using in your learning event: are these aligned with your objectives? Do they provide meaningful learning for your students? Are the points clear? How many cases are you using? Would it be better to have three well-constructed, in-depth cases, or the five you’re currently using? Are you being deliberate in what you’re including, or just force of habit?

Decluttering principle: Have a designated place for everything

Learning Event translation: Have a designated time for everything

Consider making a timeline plan for your learning event to keep everything “in its place.” This doesn’t have to be rigid to the last second, but can help keep things on track. If you have an outline that includes each topic or case, discussion/question time, breaks, wrap-up/summarizing time, it will help keep you on track and ensure finish on time. It also helps let you know when to wrap up discussions (no matter how interesting) to move onto the next important point.

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Not everyone can – or should – dive into decluttering their home (see this New York Times opinion piece which argues very clearly that there’s class politics involved in the decluttering movement). Likewise, not every learning event is in need of decluttering. However, if you’re frequently going over time, or find that you’re not meeting the learning objectives you have, or you’re just generally dissatisfied with your teaching sessions, decluttering may be a place to start.

One caveat: Decluttering can’t be done in a vacuum – either at home or for a learning event. For every fan of Kondo’s work, there are partners, children and other relatives who complain (rightly) that stuff they needed, wanted or sparked joy for them has been summarily tossed by an obsessive tidier. If you’re interested in decluttering your learning events on a larger scale (for example, does this MCC presentation even belong in my session?), that necessitates conversations and cooperation with your course director and fellow instructors and I’m happy to pitch in, too.

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