Monday, May 4, 2009

A Review of Teaching Scholar Programs

A special issue of Academic Medicine was devoted to reporting on teaching scholar programs across the United States. Rosenbaum and colleagues (1) were instrumental in developing and implementing a TSP in the Carver College of Medicine at University of Iowa (in fact, oen of the authors of this paper serves as a member of our R25 advisory council). Goals for that program included (1) promoting development of a cadre of faculty with the skills to implement faculty development in their departments, (2) increase departmental involvement in faculty development, (3) increase resources for dissemination of college-wide faculty development efforts, and (4) acknowledge the effort that faculty put into developing their skills and in helping train their colleagues. Interested faculty must apply for the program and must meet specific acceptance criteria. Incentives include a stipend to attend a medical education conference, support from program staff, receipt of a certificate at program end, and formal recognition as a teaching scholar in college publications. The program curriculum consists of (1) monthly half-day training sessions that focus on specific skills in either instructional design, teaching skills or professional development; (2) teaching self-improvement activities involving reflection; (3) videotaped performance evaluations in classroom; and (4) completion of a faculty development project.

Muller and Irby (2) developed a TSP for the University of California School of Medicine in San Francisco. Their overall goal was to produce educational leaders for UCSF, and therefore they offered accepted faculty learning experiences in 7 areas: learning theory, teaching methods, curriculum development and evaluation, assessment of learning, leadership and organizational change, career development, and educational research. This program requires a weekly 3-hour seminar, with reading assignments and writing exercises. Most sessions have a short initial presentation, followed by a writing experience on the topic. This is then followed by a seminar discussion, typically student-led. Faculty participants are also required to complete a scholarly project. The model offered for learning objectives for this program is one adaptable for use within the chiropractic college setting.

The program at McGill University was developed by Steinert and McLeod (3). This program is a year in length and focuses on 5 major educational themes: curriculum design and innovation, effective teaching methods and evaluation strategies, educational program evaluation, research in medical and health sciences education, and educational leadership. Its primary goal is to help faculty learn more about educational principles and methods, pursue scholarship in medical education, and prepare for educational leadership roles. Scholars admitted into the program are expected to devote one day per week to the activities required to complete the year-long program. The program includes 2 university-based courses from the faculty of education, a monthly seminar, an educational project and participation in faculty-wide development activities. In addition, the organizers have instituted a monthly educational journal club. Assessment has indicated this program is meeting its goals quite well.

The program at the University of Washington (4) was initiated by the same David Irby mentioned about with regarding UCSF. The mission for this program is defined as “to promote academic excellence through the development of a vibrant community of leaders in education who can innovate, enliven and enrich the environment at the University of Washington.” Scholars attend sessions one-half day per week for 10 months, with many of the sessions led by the scholars themselves. They work in collaboration with program leaders to decide upon course readings, but are responsible for teaching material to each other. Scholars are exposed to topics on educational research, leadership, team building, verbal communication, learning theory, curriculum development, creating and evaluating tests, etc. Each scholar is required to complete a capstone project prior to completing the program.

The mission of the Medical Education Scholars Program at the University of Michigan is to develop educational leadership, improve teaching skills, and promote educational scholarship among the medical school faculty (5) Their program follows the academic calendar and meets weekly from September through June for 3 hours per meeting. The curriculum is divided into 5 broad domains: teaching and learning topics; cognition topics; educational assessment topics; academic leadership sessions; research methods and methodology. Scholars in the program are also mentored by senior faculty, and are required to complete a scholar’s project. Faculty scholars lead workshops and then undergo what has been termed an ‘autopsy” examining their performance as workshop leader. A journal club is incorporated into this program as well.

The program at the University of Arkansas (6) evolved over a period of years but has at its center a series of monthly 3-hour workshops related to teaching and educational research, combined with lectures from nationally well-known health science educators. Scholars are required to complete a project, similar to the other programs noted above.


1. Rosenbaum ME, Lenoch S, Ferguson KJ. Increasing departmental and college-wide faculty development opportunities through a teaching scholars program. Acad Med 2006;81:965-968
2. Muller JH, Irby DM. Developing educational leaders: the teaching scholars program at the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine. Acad Med 2006;81:959-964
3. Steinert Y, McLeod PJ. From novice to informed educator: the teaching scholars program for educators in the health sciences. Acad Med 2006;81:969-974
4. Robins L, Ambrozy D, Pinsky LE. Promoting academic excellence through leadership development at the University of Washington: the teaching scholars program. Acad Med 2006;81:979-983
5. Frohna AZ, Hamstra SJ, Mullan PB, Gruppen LD. Teaching medical education principles and methods to faculty using an active learning approach: the University of Michigan Medical Education Scholars Program. Acad Med 2006;81:975-978
6. Moses AS, Heestand DE, Doyle LL, O’Sullivan PS. Impact of a teaching scholar program. Acad Med 2006;81:S87-S90

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