Challenges and Opportunities of Independent Learning
Healthcare education programs are challenged with developing mechanisms to address the ever-increasing volume of medical knowledge, the desire of students to take ownership of their learning process, and a mandate from accrediting agencies to develop independent learners with life-long learning skills. Systems such as online micro lectures, e.g. the Khan Academy, programmed instruction texts and web-based modules often focus on providing a definable curriculum, while offering the flexibility to allow students to progress at their own pace. Students benefit by having control of their learning, being able to set the pace and remediate any self-assessed deficiencies. Such flexibility in learning methods is often accompanied by a decrease in integration of material and an overall lack of less tangible qualities that are difficult to measure. While students are adept at leveraging technology for their learning, the onus is on the healthcare educational institution to help students:
- move beyond program-dictated sequential podcasts and web-based curricula to help students develop the life-long learning skills;
- integrate and coordinate multiple disciplines in a self-paced independent curriculum towards a more comprehensive understanding of concepts;
- develop skills in communication, teamwork and collaborative thinking in an independent learning curriculum;
- assess competency, especially noncognitive skills and attitudes and higher-order thinking skills, in an independent learning curriculum.
Robert Noiva has been the Associate Dean for Medical Education and Associate Professor of Biomedical Science at the Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine for the past three years. He oversees all aspects of the medical student curriculum at OUWB, including course planning and evaluation, managing schedules and educational resources, student and faculty assessment as well as continuing to stay active in the classroom teaching Biochemistry. Dr. Noiva spent 18 years in the Division of Basic Biomedical Sciences at the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine where he taught Medical Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and ran several K-12 science outreach programs. Following his position in South Dakota, Noiva served as Director of Medical Biochemistry at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, where he contributed to the lecture/discussion and independent studies curricular pathways.
Douglas Gould is currently a Professor and Vice-Chair of the Department of Biomedical Sciences at the Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine (OUWB) in Rochester, MI. He serves as the course director for the first year medical student neuroscience course. Dr. Gould has a longtime interest in the creation and evaluation of ancillary tools for independent learning – including 3 texts, a programmed learning tool for neuroscience, flashcards and a host of software packages. He has received a number of awards for teaching, including the excellence in teaching award from Ohio State University College of Medicine and all 5 Abraham Flexner Teaching Awards from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine. In the past he has served as the Editor-in-Chief of JIAMSE; completed the Aspire, Achieve, and Lead Leadership Development Program as part of his role as Chair of the Anatomical Sciences Section of the American Dental Education Association; and most recently has been appointed to the OUWB School of Medicine Management Committee.