AMIA 2019 Informatics Educators Forum Faculty Development Labs

To fulfill the goals of classroom learning objectives, informatics educators need to be more than subject matter experts. The most effective teachers employ instructional strategies they may know instinctively, acquire through years of experience, or study formally. 

For the first time, AMIA is including Faculty Development Labs in the IEF program. These five labs focus on teaching skills grounded in theories such as adult learning, cognitive psychology, conflict resolution, and instructional design:

  • Difficult Conversations: More Gain, Less Pain
  • Incorporating Active Learning in Lectures
  • Leading Through Conflict: Staying Cool and Effective through the Toughest Situations
  • Problem-based and Case-based Learning: Philosophy, Implementation and Material Design
  • Strategies for Student Engagement in an Online Learning Environment

Our “teaching teaching” labs formalize the science of instruction for an audience dedicated to training health informatics students at any point along their educational trajectory. 

These workshops are presented by The Learning Studio and The Teaching Center at Washington University in St. Louis and are included when you register for the AMIA Informatics Educators Forum. 

D. Leonard, The Teaching Center, Washington University in St. Louis

Synchronous and asynchronous online environments can provide students with a unique and dynamic learning experience in higher education. Traditional and non-traditional university students are looking for flexible and accessible learning spaces that integrate well with personal and professional responsibilities. Online learning spaces give students opportunities to work across various time zones to collaborate and share ideas with peers across the globe. Yet, the design, the logistics, and management of an online course requires instructors to both anticipate and reduce barriers that might hinder student engagement online. Eliminating student anonymity, monitoring for cognitive overload through visual and hearing channels, and being explicit in providing clear directions are key for successful online learning. In this workshop, we will focus on three design areas that will maximize student learning in online settings. First, we will consider best practices in course design to establish a strong foundation for learning. We will talk about the importance of learning objectives and how learning objectives can support activities that will help students engage with course content in a way that deepens their learning. Second, we will consider how to structure opportunities for online student engagement by examining approaches that will allow for community building between students and instructors. Third, we will discuss how to assess the effectiveness of an online learning environment

D. Zabloudil, The Learning Studio, Inc.

Where there are people, there is conflict. While conflict may be viewed negatively by most, healthy conflict does help individuals, teams and organizations to grow and flourish. Effective conflict resolution skills are essential to maintain the health and viability of an organization or department. Understanding the root of conflict, how to turn conflict into a constructive dynamic and lead through it all is an art, and one that is essential for any professional today. This course will pull from key Harvard research (and The New Conflict Management) as well as the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict mode instrument, illuminating how understanding conflict styles and situations will improve your relationships and career.

Key Takeaways:

  • Recognize individual conflict styles (your own and others) to determine the best path to a healthy resolution
  • Develop strategies for how and when to address conflict
  • Assure that situations of conflict are healthy and productive within your organization

J. Johnson, The Teaching Center, Washington University in St. Louis

Lecturing is one of the most common strategies used to communicate content with students, especially when faced with teaching a considerable amount of material to achieve competencies and/or teaching a large number of students. However, research tells us that students are unable to focus for the entirety of a traditional 60-minute lecture. In fact, it is thought that as instructors, we have student attention for an estimated 15 minutes at the beginning of a lecture before they require an attention reset. To aid in this reset, it is recommended to change something in your lecture every 15 minutes to support student attention, learning and engagement with the material. These change-up strategies are typically active learning strategies. Active learning has been defined as learning that “engages students in the process of learning through activities and/or discussion in class, as opposed to passively listening to an expert. It emphasizes higher-order thinking and often involves group work.” Freeman, S., et al. (2014). Research overwhelmingly supports the shift from passive learning environments to more active ones, however this transformation can be difficult to envision in large STEM lecture courses. This workshop will help participants recognize ways to strategically incorporate active learning into their lectures and identify how these techniques can strengthen student learning. Through exploration of what defines a lecture, how to leverage students as active members of the learning process, and hands-on experience, participants in this workshop will learn evidence-based strategies to make lectures a more active learning environment regardless of the size of the course.

D. Zabloudil, The Learning Studio, Inc.

Whether delivering difficult news to key stakeholders--such as students, colleagues, administrators, or benefactors—or having other high-stakes conversations, understanding how to successfully deliver a difficult message is critical to a positive and productive outcome, as well as a continued relationship. Based on theories from Crucial Conversations and Crucial Accountability, this course will demonstrate the communication skills and techniques needed to effectively deliver a difficult message with confidence and clarity, thus ensuring the best possible results.

Key Takeaways:

  • Develop the skills for how to best read and understand your audience prior to a difficult conversation
  • Defuse and transform difficult situations using the most appropriate style and technique for the situation at hand
  • Build greater confidence in dealing with difficult situations and messaging

J. Johnson, The Teaching Center, Washington University in St. Louis

As instructors, we are constantly trying to find ways to support our students’ learning but also help them find ways to apply content beyond the scope of the class and build connections across disciplines. Creating these authentic learning experiences for students can be challenging, but when done well they can transform student engagement and foster a life-long interest in the material. One way to approach designing course material that facilitates this engagement is to lean on structured collaborative learning methods. Education research suggests that students acquire and retain knowledge most effectively by engaging in collaborative learning groups with peers. Problem-Based Learning (PBL) and Case-Based Learning (CBL) is a structured collaborative learning method where students work in teams to solve open-ended, interdisciplinary, and real-world problems. Using PBL and CBL can be an effective way to encourage students to move beyond their disciplinary expertise, build interpersonal skills necessary for productive collaborative work, and recognize how class material can be applicable to a variety of applications and situations. As with all collaborative learning, careful attention must be paid to designing material that encourages positive and productive group dynamics and ensures that the problem cannot be solved by any one group member on their own. Through a facilitator presentation and participant engagement this workshop will introduce participants to the underlying philosophy of PBL/CBL, practical aspects of implementation, and the roles of the instructor and the students in the learning process. Furthermore, participants will experience first-hand how to develop a real-world problem or a case study relevant to a course they are currently teaching or one they may teach in the future.