A Medical Science Educator Article Review From Dr. Melanie Korndorffer

This review was written by Melanie L. Korndorffer, MD, FACS, a member of the IAMSE Publications Committee, and was published in April 2021 in Medical Science Educator. The article is titled “Supporting Self-Directed Learning: A National Needs Analysis” and was written by Youn Seon Lim, Virginia T. Lyons & Joanne M. Willey.

As a physician and a medical educator, I considered reviewing this original research article a great opportunity. Drs. Lim, Lyons, and Willey published a fascinating manuscript analyzing the current status of faculty learning to foster SDL in medical schools. The authors present the results of a needs assessment. The assessment demonstrated an overwhelming agreement that physicians in training should be self-directed learners and that faculty require training in various education approaches to teaching the process of SDL. A crucial part of their research evaluated the faculty recognition of cognitive, affective, and metacognitive strategies to aid learners in guiding their learning. In addition, the authors identified an absence of faculty development in the methods of teaching SDL.

In practice, physicians must identify gaps in knowledge and choose wisely among many venues, journals, and conferences the optimal process for themselves. A majority of those surveyed in this study agreed with this assessment. Most also agree faculty need specific training to teach SDL effectively. Most faculty report administration support for SDL within their schools, but only half of the respondents were offered any in-house training. The most frequent access to a program to train educators is at national conferences. Some faculty reported that they did not believe that teachers can actively educate students on SDL but that it is learned through medical school in general.

In their final analysis, the authors concluded that medical educators, by and large, want to have curricula fostering the process of SDL. Additionally, faculty recognize the need to be educated in pedagogies designed to facilitate the skills of SDL. Finally, this research allowed medical educators to evaluate their own ability to guide learners in the process and administrators to identify gaps within their own institutions. The article is clearly written, technically sound, and well referenced. The limitations of the study are acknowledged and may be addressed with further research. Congratulation to the authors on another fine original research paper from the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth.

Thank you for allowing me to review this article offering such important information.

Melanie L. Korndorffer, MD, FACS
Tulane University School of Medicine