Honing skills for 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 Red Book’s 7th edition is forthcoming; the link will be updated automatically).
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? (Or, if you’re creating an independent learning plan, as in the case of the new Scholar block in Clerkship: “ What do I want to accomplish in this block?”)
Frequently the response is:
- “I want them to know….” / “I want to know…”
- “I want them to understand….” / “I want to understand…”
- “I want them to be able to…” / “I want 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 learners 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 learners 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).
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 Elentra Learning Event page with your learning-event specific objectives:
- Start with writing your know or understand statements: what do you want learners to know or understand after your session?
- Think about what level of understanding you want students to demonstrate and how you would measure that (scan the verb chart for ideas)
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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”.
A version of this post was originally available in 2017… but writing learning objectives is an ongoing challenge for all!
Three ways to think about student engagement in remote curriculum delivery
While you’re preparing to deliver our UGME fall curriculum for Years 1, 2 and 3 predominantly via remote technologies (and some of that asynchronously), the challenge of keeping student engaged and involved may be top of mind. Three strategies (useful in any teaching, not just pandemic-restricted scenarios) are useful to keep in mind.
1. Set expectations early For many – students and teachers alike – remote teaching using a platform like Zoom is a new way to learn, so it helps to set the expectations when you start. In face-to-face teaching, this is sometimes done formally, but more often informally. A learner sitting alone in front of their computer can’t “read the room” to know what’s ok. If you’d prefer that students use the Zoom “raise hand” function to ask questions, let them know this at the start of class. If you’d rather they unmute their microphones to interrupt, set this as your norm. If you invite students to email you with questions after your session, set a reasonable time-frame for response. If you expect them to have downloaded a worksheet from Elentra ahead of time, make sure this is in your learning event’s “required preparation” section, since you can’t have a handout ready as back-up. Be clear, so no one gets frustrated.
2. Use tools effectively All the tools available in the classroom are also available in remote teaching – they just sometimes need a bit of tweaking to use effectively. For example, one really low-tech engagement tool is silence. In my early days teaching at the University of New Brunswick, I had a Post-It note on my lecture notes which said: “shut up, Theresa!” This was a succinct reminder to myself to give students time to hear and process questions before I went ahead and answered them myself. With remote teaching, we need to factor in time for student to click on their “raise hand” button or hit “unmute” along with that processing time. Silence can be uncomfortable for instructors as we think we should be filling every moment, however, using questioning and dialogue effectively remotely requires becoming comfortable with longer intervals waiting.
Most other tools you use routinely face-to-face can continue to be used via Zoom. For example, Poll Everywhere and videos were also used quite easily during the spring term. Do you sometimes use “show of hands” to get a response? Both the “raise hand” function and the “reactions” one can be used for this purpose. Some in-class tools might take a bit of strategic thinking and planning to rework for remote classes. If you have something in particular in mind, reach out for brainstorming and to capitalize on collective wisdom.
3. Assign roles Whether you’re in a Zoom class, or assigning asynchronous work, it can be helpful to proactively assign roles to individual students to keep everyone engaged and participating equitably. Whether it’s the randomizer app used by Dr. Gilic and Dr. Simpson in MEDS 115 to call on individual students for responses, or a “Someone from group X” call-out, these can all be tailored for Zoom.
If you’d like some Zoom-mediated face-to-face feedback, ask that one student from each SGL group be “on camera” during the class. Not everyone’s internet supports using video throughout, but teaching to a sea of names in black boxes makes it hard to gauge responses. Using a rotation within groups will share this responsibility. (And get more camera-shy students used to being “on” in a low-stakes way).
If you’d like a student to monitor the chat box for questions, create a roster of students who are willing to do it and share that task through the term.
If you’re using discussion boards for asynchronous teaching, break up the tasks needed to meet the learning outcomes of the discussion: have one or two students assigned to pose a discussion question based on the preparatory materials, another to moderate, someone else to write a one-paragraph summary of the discussion to share with the large group. You could also assign a student or two from each group to write multiple choice questions based on the assigned material. (If you’re interested in using discussion boards on Elentra, get in touch and we can set it up for you).
It’s true we’re in somewhat uncharted waters for teaching this way, but there are solutions to the teaching challenges. If you’re stumped or frustrated, please reach out – we can find some solutions together. Reach me best by email (email@example.com).
Planning your teaching in uncertain times
Summer is upon us and, with it, planning for fall semester teaching. There’s a lot of uncertainty in the world these days vis-à-vis the COVID-19 pandemic – which has contributed to some uncertainty in planning for curricular delivery. At the School of Medicine, we have permission to run some learning activities face-to-face (such as clinical skills) with new restrictions in place to maintain social-distancing, but our traditional classroom-based teaching will be impacted as well.
The Education Team is here to support Course Directors and all teaching faculty as we face these new challenges. While we don’t have all the answers yet about room assignments and scheduling, there are still many things we can do right now to help with your planning and preparation for both your synchronous (all students learning at an appointed time, either in a classroom or via Zoom) or asynchronous teaching (students provided with learning materials that need to be completed by a certain deadline, but otherwise, they can learn on their own schedule and own pace). If we don’t have solutions to your queries, we’ll help find them.
Things we can help you with now:
- Discovering options for asynchronous teaching
Course Directors have been asked to consider different avenues for asynchronous learning. While this already exists in many courses in the form of Directed Independent Learning electronic modules, there are other options, too. If you would like to increase the amount of asynchronous learning in your course – or just explore possibilities – we can help with this.
- Learning techniques for interactive teaching via Zoom
We learned a lot from our two-and-a-half months of remote teaching using Zoom from March – May. If you’re concerned about how to keep your teaching engaging and interactive while “talking to a box”, we can help with this – and provide some practice opportunities, too, so it’s not so intimidating. Tools you may already be using in the classroom, such as videos and polling, are easily leveraged on the Zoom platform.
- Exploring approaches to assessment
Your current assessment plan may be just fine, but there may be things you’d like to tweak given the logistics of remote delivery. We’ve sorted out quizzes, graded team assignments (GTAs), and proctored exams already, so we can address these and any other concerns you have and make any appropriate modifications.
- Guiding you to resources
We can point you towards Faculty of Health Sciences and campus-wide faculty development opportunities and services that are available and talk about which approaches already fit with the UG program, and navigate through other possibilities.
- Brainstorming and problem solving
While the landscape may have changed with the COVID-19 pandemic, our goals as your Education Team remain the same: we’re here to help you prepare for, deliver, and improve your teaching and assessment.
Please get in touch:
Theresa Suart firstname.lastname@example.org
Eleni Katsoulas email@example.com
Rachel Bauder firstname.lastname@example.org
Use the microphones, and other audio advice
Microphones can be intimidating to use and sometimes we think we don’t need to use them. (Especially those of us who have developed a “teacher voice” over the years). However, using the microphones available in the School of Medicine Building’s large teaching theatres (032 and 132) is essential to provide an optimal learning experience for all, especially those who may be using Assisted Listening Devices (ALDs), catching up with captured lectures, or video-conferencing in using Zoom.
These teaching spaces were actually designed to limit sound travel, so the microphones become essential equipment. “The theatres were designed to be like a recording studio, which means there’s minimum audio transfer throughout the room,” Jason Palmer, Classroom Technology and Media Coordinator* explained.
The building materials were selected with this minimal audio transfer in mind. It’s accomplished through acoustic panels in the ceiling and the wall paneling around the room.
“It isn’t actually wood, it’s an acoustic material. If you look at the wood up close, you’ll see microlaser perforations through the wood and if you look at the backside, it looks like a half-inch thick slice of pegboard MDF, but there’s a one milimetre skin of walnut over the top of the whole thing, with these perforations,” he pointed out.
Behind the paneling itself are two other sound dampening materials as well as insulators. One reason for these design choices was to ensure that when up to 16 small groups of 7-8 people were talking to work on cases (for example) that the noise level in the room “would not be outrageous.”
“If you had a room that was very echo-y, like a standard room with standard drywall, you would create a cacophony pretty quickly. It would be untenable because the first group starts talking, the second group has to talk a little louder to be heard over the first group, to the point that it would just be a chaotic sound,” he said.
“A lot of traditional old-school classrooms were like that, because they built them out of concrete walls, and they didn’t really think about [noise] or if anyone was talking other than the lecturer – and that was the point. We’ve changed the teaching model, to use this group learning methodology, and because of that, they had to make a lot of considerations for audio.”
The rooms were also designed to act as recording studios to facilitate lecture capture and broadcasting of learning events through technology such as Zoom meeting. For these recordings, the audio is taken from a direct feed from the microphone system, rather than recording the room at large.
There are three different types of microphones used the theatres, two for presenters and one for students/audience members.
Each theatre has a lavalier lapel microphone and a handheld one. The most often used by instructors is the lavalier mic.
The quickest way to remember where to clip the lavalier microphone is to put the microphone dead centre under your chin, Palmer said. “It means wearing things like button down shirts and ties to make it really easy. Wearing things like t-shirts and solid front shirts makes it more difficult.”
A lanyard cord or strap from a passport pouch can also work. (Thank you, Dr. Sue Moffatt for this advice!) It’s helpful helpful to have either a pocket or a waistband/belt to clip the unit to, or if you’re using a passport pouch, the unit can go there.
“The reason you want it dead centre, is because a microphone is a cone, at 45 degrees. If I turn my head to either side and it’s dead centre, the microphone will still always pick me up. If I put the microphone off to the side, as soon as I turn to the other side, I’m gone.”
Some instructors prefer the hand-held microphones and these are also used for panel presentations. (There are now an additional four handheld mics available in 132 specifically for panel presentations).
When using the handheld microphone, the advice is to almost rest it on your chin and talk at a normal volume.
“The reason you almost rest it on your chin, is a microphone is really a very heavy thing. It doesn’t seem like it at first, but after an hour of teaching… the microphone starts to slowly lower down to your belly button.”
For both the lavalier and hand-held microphones, “red means stop, green means go,” Palmer said. “When you first turn it on it’s still red because it hasn’t synchronized to the receiver– this takes a bit less than two seconds. Turn it on, wait for the green, then start talking.”
Palmer does caution that a microphone isn’t a miracle worker. “If you are someone who is naturally soft-spoken at all times, a microphone won’t instantly make you louder. Contrary to what people believe a microphone is for. It’s not for amplification, it’s for sound for sound reinforcement.”
“What I tell people: When you pick up a microphone, you are talking at a dinner party to five friends, you’re not talking one-on-one to your friend. You’re also not talking at a Starbucks where it requires a lot more volume. You just need to elevate slightly – don’t yell, but at the same time, don’t talk really quietly.”
The microphones are equipped with AGC (automatic gain control) if you talk too loud and risk feedback and ‘brains’ in the microphone scale you back – so don’t worry, he added.
Do not blow into a microphone, as this can damage the equipment. “If you want to see if it’s on talk, or lightly tap it,” he advised.
The student desk microphones are activated from the main console by ensuring the “push-to-talk” mode is selected. (This is typically done by one of the technical staff first thing in the morning). Similar to the other microphones, there a one or two second delay from pushing to the microphone working. When the button is pressed, it flashes three times red, then stays on steady: at that point, it’s on. Push the button again to disengage. (It’s also automatically disengaged when another student microphone is pressed.)
The last thing he’d like students to remember about their table-top microphone system is that the mics are vulnerable to drink spills.
“All their drinks should have a lid. We don’t want to damage the microphones. Inside a microphone is a very complex arrangement of copper wire over a very thin membrane in order to facilitate sound,” he said.
Whenever there is a problem with a microphone or a button, please let the tech team know so they can fix them as soon as possible. For now, use the email@example.com email – there is a ticket system coming.
* * *
Still, some people insist they’re loud enough to go without the tech. Palmer, who has been working in these theatres since the building opened in 2011, disagrees.
“We have ONE presenter who is, absolutely, loud enough to present in that room without a microphone. That person also did Shakespeare at Stratford – has projection! I heard them through the glass [of the audio booth] as if they were standing next to me,” he said. But even that person needs to use the microphone, he added. Palmer cites three main reasons for everyone to always use the microphone systems:
1 Individuals with hearing difficulties may have problems hearing even someone who is projecting well, due to clarity, reverberation, and other ambient interference. “You want as much clarity as possible,” he said. Plus, the microphones feed directly to the Assisted Listening Devices (ALDs) that are available for use in both theatres. “It’s a ‘direct drop’ from the matrix, so it’s the cleanest line feed you can possibly get.” (I tried one out in the basement lobby outside 032 while a class was going on, and the feed even outside the classroom was excellent).
There are four ALDs for each theatre. These can be signed out from the tech booth at the back. Students can just ask at the booth, or email ahead of time if they prefer (firstname.lastname@example.org). It takes moments to set up and with fresh batteries (provided) they’re good for eight hours. Each ALD has a sanitizable hearing cup that covers one ear.
There is also a portable Assisted Listening System (ALS) available if needed in another teaching space. It includes a microphone the instructor wears that feeds directly to the student’s system. The ALS has one transmitter and eight listener units. To arrange to use the ALS, email email@example.com.
Palmer wants to make sure students aren’t hesitant to use the devices if they need them. “We always have a technician in the back room, so it’s always available.”
2 The microphone provides a direct feed for recordings for lecture capture – for both instructors and students. “It’s an opt-in system with lecturers, but just so people get in the habit of using the microphones. We need the students’ questions recorded, as well, because dead air and then an answer is not effective.”
3 “We are capable of doing Zoom video conferencing in each of the lecture theatres and without the microphones, people at the other site wouldn’t hear. We generally want everyone to have the same experience, plus, we really want that clean audio in that Zoom meeting.”
A fourth great reason to use microphones whenever they are available (not only in 032 and 132) is this helps to make our teaching spaces more accessible to all users — a requirement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).
* He says he also answers to “Tech Guy”, “Computer Guy”, and “Guy in the Booth”.
I have no time…
By Adrian Baranchuk MD FACC FRCPC FCCS
Division of Cardiology, Kingston Health Science Center, Queen’s University
“A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.” ~ Charles Darwin, The Life & Letters of Charles Darwin
“I have no time.”
I have heard this sentence on several occasions.
I have heard this from my co-workers, staff, fellows, residents, nurses, and managers. I have heard this from friends – who used to spend long hours chatting, laughing and playing music – but now, they have no time.
I have heard this from close family members who have exclaimed, “I have no time.”
Finally, I have heard this sentence – the same four words – said by myself. It has become part of the dialectic armamentarium that I use upon invitations – “I have no time.”
Time has become a valuable commodity.
As academicians, our job descriptions specify the “time” allocated to different roles: (i) “time” for clinical work, (ii) “time” for teaching, (iii) “time” for research. We call the latter “protected time.” The notion that our time is “protected” is comforting. We are protected. Our “time” is protected.
The structure of our life is built around time; it accepts different metrics, depending the cultural background, the level of education, and the earnings and savings.
It is “time” for you to move to your own house.
It is “time” for you to further your career.
It is “time” for you to get married and start a family.
It is “time” for you to retire.
Although time can provide structure and discipline, it has become a regulator of our abilities to do something during our life.
Inadvertently, or not, we also use time to structure the life of others, such as family members, employees, or trainees. The ability to guide – or manipulate – someone by regulating the time they spend under one’s supervision is more powerful than any other form of intervention, such as encouragement, motivation, salary, or recognition. Nothing compares to the impact that “time” regulation has over our actions, either voluntary or mandatory.
In that sense, we self-allocate “time” to activities that we perceive as meaningful or enjoyable, such as going to the gym, conversing with partners, reading a book, et cetera. Violating this principle is a trigger for anxiety and frustration. The feeling of guilt that we experience when doing something that we perceive is in place of another timely activity – despite being part of human emotions – is a source of discontent.
There is not a generalized approach to using “time” wisely – it is individualized. We go through life, with more or less success, defying our own chronometer to do some of the things that we have dreamt, and we allocate the “time” that we speculate we have to reach those goals.
Few years ago, I found myself overwhelmed with work. My mentor called from the other side of the Atlantic and I responded without much enthusiasm. The wise man of only 83 years of age recognized my exhaustion and told me, “You sound too busy…you are doing too many things at the same time…you should slow down.” Rather than taking the advice with sincerity and consider reducing my workload, it agitated me. I replied, “What do you want me to do? I have no time.”
I said “I have no time” to my 83-year-old mentor who has, from a statistical point of view, much less time than me to accomplish his dreams.
There was a period of silence on the phone line. Some say that more than 23 s of silence between two individuals is the most tolerable duration before one of the two individuals breaks the moment with a comment; after about 10 to 12 s, I said “are you there?” He replied, “I was wondering whether you have time to think?” I have not forgotten this phrase since it was spoken many years ago.
When did I lose my capacity for contemplation? When did I sacrifice my ability to enjoy doing nothing? The “dolce far niente” (“sweet doing nothing”) that the Italians have immortalized. Albert Einstein said, “Time is an illusion.” Does the perceived lack of time represent the absence of illusions? How do we regain, in this world of immediacies, the ambition of living in a world of illusions? How relevant, for the creative process of enjoying your life (and be productive) is to have illusions?
While Mahatma Gandhi taught us that “there is more to life than simply increasing its speed;” Benjamin Franklin has counteroffered that “lost time is never found again.”
If we live in this world with a constant perception of not having “time,” how are we going to construct memories that at some point may be our only companion in life? Are we losing the ability to contemplate? Does this affect our ability to relate to our patients if we have no time to connect with them?
One of my other mentors – after consultation with a patient in the hospital ward – once asked me what book the patient was reading. “I have no clue” was my immediate answer, all the while skeptical about how this would relate to patient care. I did not understand at the time that our ability to contemplate and have holistic views will aid us as physicians to relate to the patient, which is a skill that is of immense value.
Where do ideas come from? How do we connect an idea with the creative process and the systematic work flow to move it into action? How does an idea move forward into realization?
Apparently, “time” is the key that regulates this process. Time is the precious commodity that we all want to attain – despite where we live and work, and how our family is structured – and we are all “offered” the same total amount every day.
So far, we have not been able to create “time.” We have not succeeded in having 25 h in a day. We have to resolve the enigma of how to distribute our efforts and energy throughout the same amount of minutes and seconds in a day. A strict 24 h per day.
I would like to teach my students to use their time wisely so as to enjoy their life and balance their ambitions. I want my students to be happy, and help them evolve not only as great scientists but also happy and content individuals. I want my students to have time to contemplate and think freely as such that time is not a factor that regulates their decisions.
I only wrote this piece today because I had convinced myself that I had no time before.
I propose to the readers to exercise the search of finding time for what they really want to do with their lives. Perhaps allowing a few minutes a day to do what they did not find “time” to do lately.
Because the “time” that we think we do not have, is out there. It is a matter of learning how to grasp it and to make it ours.
It is time to do it.
To Sohaib Haseeb for editing the first draft. To Gustavo Bonzon for his translation into Spanish.
Creative Commons Image from: https://www.deviantart.com/mariana-a/art/She-saw-the-time-passing-by-new-350524188
Latest Exceptional Healer winners announced
The latest Exceptional Healer: Patient and Family-Centred Award for the Kingston Health Sciences Centre were presented recently. The EH award competition, which is in its third year, now includes a separate award for nurses. The two selection were unequivocal in choosing Dr. Maria Velez, Obstetrics & Gynaecology, and nurse Tracey Froess in the Cancer Centre as exemplars in patient and family-centred care, Susan Bedell shares.
Of Valez, one patient wrote: “She made me feel human in a medical world.” Another added: “I’m so pleased that Dr. Velez works for a teaching hospital as new (and experienced) doctors have much to learn from her in terms of benevolent, flexible, and accessible patient-centred care.”
One patient wrote that Froess’ “passion and dedication to her patients shines brightly!” while another noted she “routinely empowers families to take ownership of their situation identifying what will work best for them and delivering it.”
Over the last three years, the following individuals have been awarded the Exceptional Healer Award:
2017 Dr. Richard Henry – Anesthesiology & Chronic Pain Clinic
Dr. Tom Gonder – Ophthalmology & Retina Specialist
2018 Dr. Shawna Johnston – Obstetrics & Gynaecology
2019 Dr. Maria Velez, Obstetrics & Gynaecology
Nurse Tracey Froess – Cancer Centre
Patients, family members, staff, and students learning at KHSC are encouraged to submit nominations each year.
Here is more about Dr. Maria Valez and Nurse Tracey Froess, from the original blog post from the KHSC site:
Masters in the art of listening
By Christine Maloney
Putting patients and families at the centre of their care has earned nurse Tracey Froess and Dr. Maria del Pilar Vélez Kingston Health Sciences Centre’s (KHSC) Exceptional Healer Awards.
Froess and Dr. Vélez were among 22 nurses and physicians nominated by patients, families and staff for the annual award. Originally created by the Patient & Family Advisory Council, it honours those who demonstrate the core concepts of patient- and family-centred care, dignity and respect, participation and collaboration.
For Dr. Vélez, an obstetrician and gynecologist focused on improving women’s reproductive health, her success goes beyond having knowledge, skills and dedication.
“I believe in showing compassion, and especially, to listening to patients and acknowledging the importance of their needs,” she says.
The patient who nominated Dr. Vélez felt supported and empowered throughout her care, writing in her nomination “She wanted to hear what I had to say first.” and “She went at my pace and in the directions and options I wanted to explore. I felt she understood what my values were and did everything she could to accommodate them.”
The winner in the nurse category this year, Tracey Froess works in one of KHSC’s cancer clinic. Her patient’s expressed their appreciation by saying “Tracey always took the time to listen to our concerns and we never felt rushed. We always felt respected and valued. She made the whole experience more comforting.”
“I learned from another esteemed colleague to really listen to your patients,” Froess wrote when asked about her secret to patient-care success. “This advice has always done me well in my career.”
Upon reflecting on what it means to receive an Exceptional Healer Award, both Froess and Dr. Vélez were quick to acknowledge those around them.
“It makes me realize that I have been lucky to work in the right place, with a great team, which has had a positive impact on my care of patients,” said Dr. Vélez.
Froess added, “KHSC is full of exceptional healers. I know… I’ve been fortunate to work along side them every day.”
A holiday reading list on leadership and change
In his keynote address at the UGME fall faculty retreat on December 10, Dr. Gary Tithecott addressed the topic of Leading change for success in medical education during challenging times. Dr. Tithecott is Associate Dean, Undergraduate Medical Education at Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, Western University.
During his presentation, Dr. Tithecott cited a few books and mentioned others as worth delving into. As I like to do here, I’ve created a “Top 5” list from those he mentioned (OK, it’s actually six books, as he recommended two from a single author). These books are practical and accessible reads with clear advice, he said.
There’s still time to add some or all of these to your holiday wish list.
Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck
The traditional attitude – Fixed Mindset – dictated that your fate is determined by skill you have genetically and that you demonstrate, Dr. Tithecott explained. With a Growth Mindset , by contrast, asserts that with dedication, encouragement and effort you can learn from and with others to increase your ceiling.
Since one key responsibility for a leader is to develop other people, a Growth Mindset is essential, he said. Citing an article from Forbes magazine, he noted a Growth Mindset allows leaders to
- Be open-minded
- Be comfortable with ambiguity & uncertainty
- Have strong situational awareness
- have a greater sense of preparedness
- have clarity on what others expect
- Take ownership
- Grow with people
- Eliminate mediocrity and complacency
- Break down silos
Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth
One key to success in leadership, Tithecott said, is in the power of working hard and sticking to it. For a leader it’s supporting someone to go outside of their box. He quoted Duckworth:
Grit, in a word, is stamina. But it’s not just stamina in your effort. It’s also stamina in your direction, stamina in your interests. If you are working on different things but all of them very hard, you’re not really going to get anywhere. You’ll never become an expert.
Leading Change and XLR8 by John P. Kotter
OK, this is actually TWO books, not one. Noting that no talk on change and change leadership is complete without including Kotter, Dr. Tithecott recommended both Leading Change and the more recent XLR8.
He reviewed Kotter’s list of why change fails:
- Not Establishing a Great Enough Sense of Urgency
- Not Creating a Powerful Enough Guiding Coalition
- Lacking a Vision
- Under communicating the Vision by a Factor of Ten
- Not Removing Obstacles to the New Vision
- Not Systematically Planning for, and Creating, Short-Term Wins
- Declaring Victory Too Soon
- Not Anchoring Changes in the Corporation’s Culture
Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t by Simon Sinek
The symbolism of leaders eating last – exemplified by the US Marine Corp chow line, described by Sinek – points to leaders who put their team first. This in turn, leads to more acceptance of the challenges of change, Tithecott said.
The Leader Who Had No Title by Robin Sharma
Leadership can be found in different places and doesn’t necessarily mean the person “at the top”. Where and how leadership for change can be developed can vary, Tithecott said, recommending Sharma’s book.
The special challenges of researching teaching and learning
[Italics indicates a hyperlink]
We’re passionate about teaching and learning and equally passionate about evidence-based medicine. So, it follows that we’re also interested in evidence-based teaching methods. That translates into interest in Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) at the School of Medicine.
This means we have teachers interested in conducting research studies about their teaching and in finding better ways to help students learn. This is a particularly challenging type of research that raises unique issues about power, confidentiality, captive populations, and the burden on participants.
The Queen’s General Research Ethics Board (GREB) issued a four-page guideline document on Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) in June 2017.
As much of the research conducted by those involved in the UGME program focuses on SoTL – and the HSREB is aligned with the Queen’s GREB – these Guidelines are relevant to research considerations for both faculty, staff, and student-led projects.
The Guidelines document draws attention to studies with direct student involvement, as well as self-studies, which both have implications for student privacy, including during the research dissemination process.
For studies with direct student involvement, other considerations that are highlighted include:
The power-over relationships between instructors/researchers and students can impact the students’ decision to participate in the research. This differential can be managed by keeping the instructors/researchers at arm’s length from the students by person or time [with suggestions provided]
This term can be applied when participants are dependent on an ‘authority figure’ (e.g., instructor/researcher) who can infringe on their freedom to make decisions. [Guideline include ways to mitigate this risk.]
The main purpose of formal education is for students to gain knowledge, not to be participants in research. If students are repeatedly asked to participate in research studies, their educational pursuits may be compromised. It may be of value for instructors/researchers to consider what other types of research are being conducted with students to diminish the impact of participant burden. Also, instructors/researchers should try to design studies that help enrich the students’ educational experiences instead of distracting from those experiences.
Students may have concerns about whether or not their instructors/researchers know if they took part in the research. Students may feel their decision not to participate in the research could impact their academic trajectory. [Includes suggestions for how to mitigate this risk].
[Excerpts from pages 2-3 of the Guideline]
If you’re interested in creating a study related to your teaching in the UGME program, feel free to get in touch with the Education Team to talk through some of these challenges. We’re here to help.
Making the most of features on Queen’s Library website
By Suzanne Maranda, Head Health Sciences Librarian, Queen’s University Library
[Editor’s note: text in italics indicates a hyperlink]
After I demonstrated the Queen’s University Library (QUL) website at the December 2017 UGME Curriculum retreat, Dr Sanfilippo asked me to prepare an entry for this blog with further information about the site. The changes to the website that occurred in the fall of 2016 were quite dramatic and many of you sent us feedback about the new QUL web pages. During the 16 months since the new QUL website was launched, the librarians collected this user feedback and worked closely with the Library staff to implement a few features that would benefit all our users.
The QUL website was redesigned to offer access to all services and resources via the main page. The main library page has an extensive top bar menu that remains on all library pages and can lead users to all the central services, including the library catalogue (QCAT) and Summon, our discovery tool, as well as to the specific subject areas, such as health sciences. For the Health Sciences community there are now two types of library web pages:
- The Bracken Library physical space page: this is where you reserve a library group room, check our hours and other services related to the physical collection (e.g. signing books out, requesting materials) and using the library spaces.
- The health sciences collections subject page: this is where you find access to health sciences databases and resources such as the point-of-care tools, mobile apps, multimedia materials. This page is grouped with all the other subject pages on campus, which you can find on any library page under “Search/Research by Subject” in the top banner and menu.
Based on user feedback, the Health Sciences subject guide was edited in 2017 to provide quick access to health sciences resources. Some of the most important resources are now at the top of the page, e.g. Medline, CINAHL, PubMed1 and Point-of-Care tools. You will however want to look at the subject guides prepared by librarians to support your research and teaching information needs. There are subject guides for Nursing, Medicine, Rehabilitation Therapy, and Life Sciences and Biochemistry. To access health sciences resources quickly, add the relevant subject guide link to your web browser favourites list and learning management software for students in your classes. We also have guides that highlight resources for specific programs or topics (e.g. Aging and Health, History of Medicine), and guides that are more about tools such as citation management, avoiding predatory publishers and the one with approaches and resources to develop systematic reviews and other syntheses. Check out the complete list of guides on the Health Sciences Subject page.
These guides are prepared for you BUT we would love your input: if anything you find worthwhile could be added to the list of resources, please let us know. Any resource format can be included in addition to books and journals: websites, videos, images… if you find something useful, whether in our library collection or on the web (for the latter we will ensure that it can be shared widely), please send us a note. And of course, if you think that a new guide could be developed to support your teaching and research areas, please contact us.
Best wishes for happy searching and be sure to reach out if librarians can help you locate and organize information (remember, we love doing this and just maybe… you have other things to do!). Please continue to tell us what you think of the new library web pages.
1Note that searching Pubmed via a library page brings all the links to full-text available via the QUL collections.
New and improved resources for teaching, research and clinical application
By Suzanne Maranda, Head Health Sciences Librarian, Queen’s University Library
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Are you looking for images to include in your presentations or online modules? Two Thieme products are now available online and any materials from these two resources, one in Anatomy and the other in Pharmacology, can be extracted and included in any materials that will be used in a Queen’s course or presentation. Please contact me if you would like the complete license agreement.
Usage statistics of these resources will be collected to inform our decision about renewing or not. There are two other products (Physiology and Biochemistry) from the same publisher that could be added if requested and if funds permit. The two subjects purchased were chosen in consultation with the staff preparing online modules for the BHSC program.
The other tool I would like to highlight is relatively new as it was added in September 2017. Read by QxMD is a mobile app that enables a more direct link to the journal articles subscribed by the Library and to open access journals. The link provided here is to the page of all our mobile apps, please scroll to the instructions on how to get Read to work with the Queen’s resources. When you set up a profile, you can receive email notifications of new articles that match your profile. Check out the new “medical education” option that I requested be added. This company is quite responsive, I would be happy to pass on other topic/category suggestions.
Isabel is a diagnostic support tool that can be useful in clinics and possibly for teaching clinical skills. In December 2017 the librarians participated in a webinar with the developer of Isabel to review software enhancements.
Once a few symptoms are entered, a list of possible conditions is presented for follow-up, the coloured bar on the side (see green arrow) of the list indicates the strength of the likelihood (red is best). Notice the separate tab at the top of the results box for possible drugs ( ) that may cause the symptoms you entered. By clicking on a condition, you are taken to the Dynamed entry by default. If there is no Dynamed entry, then we link to BMJ Best Practice. A few other resources have been added for linking, you see these in the left hand box, so that one can choose to look at a different resource, or even consult more than one. There is a mobile version of this clinical tool, see instructions on our mobile apps guide.
I hope you will try Isabel and consider completing the online survey (at the red arrow) that is linked from the Isabel pages to ask for your feedback about this resource.
As always, do contact us if you have any questions about the above resources or anything else information-related.