TLEF 2012 Adjudication Results

Faculty of Arts

Department of English and Film Studies/Writing Studies
Roger Graves, Gerri Lasiuk, Daphne Read

Assessing and Developing Group Writing Tutorials to Improve Undergraduate Student Writing

This interdisciplinary and collaborative research project aims to accomplish two objectives: 1) to assess the impact of an innovative instructional strategy developed by the Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) program-group writing tutorials; and 2) to create an instrument whereby students could determine whether they would benefit from it. The first goal of this project will be to assess the impact of group writing tutorials on student success. To our knowledge, no reported research exists on the efficacy of group writing tutorials such as these. The project's second goal will be to create an instrument to help students identify whether or not they will benefit from a group writing tutorial. No instruments of this kind currently exist, and indeed, this type of predictive modeling represents an innovative shift in writing studies. Undergraduate students will not only benefit from these sessions but will be able to determine this ahead of time.

Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry

Division of Studies in Medical Education
Pamela Brett-MacLean, Verna Yiu

"All the Class is a Stage": An Accessible, Interactive Approach to Exploring Challenging Topics in Medical Education through Forum Theatre"

This project seeks to further develop and expand an innovative approach using Forum Theatre (FT) to promote engaged learning related to challenging or difficult topics in medical education (including those related to CanMeds Roles) by facilitating interactive dialogue within a variety of classroom settings in the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry. This project consists of two phases. In Phase 1, we will organize a faculty development workshop that will be facilitated by David Diamond, an internationally recognized theatre director, to introduce medical educators (n=20) to FT. In Phase 2, we will recruit four research collaborators from among our workshop participants, who are interested in further developing and implementing the interactive FT scenarios they will have begun to outline in Phase 1. We will work with each of our collaborators to evaluate the introduction of their FT scenario in existing courses and curricula across both undergraduate and postgraduate medical education programs.

Department of Pediatrics
Sarah Forgie, Eleni Stroulia, Valentin Villatoro, Mark Gierl

VICToRS: Virtual Inter-professional Case-learning Tools for Improving Real Service

Our objective is to develop and evaluate a web-based software platform for authoring and simulating clinical reasoning and problem-solving with virtual-patient cases, to support active learning and continuous learner assessment for health professionals. This platform will be accessible through the web, and it will be used first in the context of two different health-science programs (medicine and medical laboratory sciences). The platform will support professional competency development through active learning; thus, it will complement well the current curricula of these programs. Furthermore, the platform will be flexible enough to support different types of learning modes, including through case authoring and through case simulation, where simulation itself can be configured with a variety of parameters (degree of realism, progress awareness, and game-like motivational elements). Through our systematic empirical studies with the platform we hope to gain new insights in case-based clinical reasoning and problem solving and learning.

Department of Family Medicine and Emergency Medicine
Darren Nichols
, Shelley Ross

Coaching the Coaches: Use of a Novel Faculty Development Tool to Improve their Feedback to Medical Learners

The development of medical competence is, in its simplest description, a two-stage cycle involving deliberate practice on behalf of the student and the delivery of effective feedback by the preceptor. While the best practices of medical feedback, or cognitive coaching, are known, the quality of feedback provided by medical faculty remains heterogeneous. This project will use a novel tool to evaluate the quality of feedback provided by medical educators to students. Feedback will be graded on its presence, relation to directly observed events, specificity, and guidance. Those preceptors whose feedback is reviewed will then receive targeted coaching on how to improve their feedback. A follow up analysis of their feedback will be done three months later. This tool is the first of its kind to be used for intensive, individually-tailored faculty development for medical teachers. The impact of coaching the coaches is that learners subsequently receive best-practices coaching themselves. They progress faster, are remediated sooner, and develop a clearer understanding of their overall competence. Ultimately the delivery of effective feedback is a key pillar of competency-based education.

Department of Family Medicine
Shelley Ross
, Michel Donoff, Paul Humphries

Refining the Competency-Based Achievement System (CBAS): Ensuring Program Effectiveness in Family Medicine Residency Education

This project elaborates upon two previous TLEF-funded projects. The first project measured the educational impact of the Competency-Based Achievement System (CBAS: a practical application of best practices in workplace training) in Family Medicine. The second project expanded CBAS to Pediatric Medicine. The current project refines the existing CBAS program. In the two years since we implemented CBAS, inconsistencies in the practice of CBAS have been found. Our goal is to improve the outcomes of CBAS by identifying areas where implementation does not follow best practices, and targeting training to address inconsistencies of practice. Our research questions: a) To what extent is CBAS being used consistently across all areas of our residency program? and b) To what extent does targeted training with inconsistent CBAS users affect the quality of resident training? We will combine quantitative data collection with qualitative data collection to develop a clear understanding of the findings for each research question.

Department of Medicine (Division of Neurology)
Penelope Smyth
, Carol Hodgson Birkman, J. Alan Gilbert

"Redrawing the Line on Professionalism" - Views on Professionalism Along the Health Care Continuum

Professionalism is highly valued. Despite the importance of professional behaviour, it remains difficult to define and teach. To successfully implement a professionalism curriculum, institutional members' values must be explored and the hidden curriculum made explicit. To address and implement a novel professionalism curricula within the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry (FoMD) and the Faculty of Nursing (FoN), we are planning a three-stage project. In Stage 1, we will use case vignettes to explore perceptions of professional behavior across the educational continuum comparing anonymous ratings of students, residents, and faculty in the FoMD and FoN. In Stage 2, responses will be used to develop an educational workshop on professionalism for medical professionals from student to faculty. Stage 3 will result in an innovative module to enhance individual self-reflection for those in professionalism remediation and explore department chairs' perceptions of the module. A process and outcome evaluation will be conducted.

Faculty of Nursing

Florence Myrick, Pauline Paul, Derek Selman, Wendy Caplan, Deirdre Jackman, Azizah Sculley, Katherine Melo

The Teaching Support Initiative (TSI): Fostering Quality Teaching and Learning through Ongoing Professional Development

Student learning is contingent on quality teaching which is invariably reliant on support for the teacher. Integral to that support is ongoing professional development. To facilitate individual faculty into their academic role and support them in their teaching, it is important to cultivate an environment of professional enrichment, collegiality, respect, and one which translates into quality teaching and learning for the student. To foster such an environment the Faculty of Nursing has created the Teaching Support Initiative (TSI), a face-to-face, web-based program designed to provide ongoing professional development. The purpose of this proposed TLEF project is to develop and evaluate a self-paced online program as a TSI feature to support faculty's ongoing teaching/learning needs, one which will be sustainable through the Faculty of Nursing Teaching and Learning Office (TLO). The self-paced program will comprise a series of learning modules, quandary decision-making mazes, e-portfolios, case studies and voice over powerpoint sessions.

Bev Williams, Jude Spiers, Barb Gibson, Liz Richard, Wendy Motley, Willy Kabotoff, Debra McIlwraith, Azizah Sculley

The Influence of Undergraduate Education on Professional Practice Competencies

Professional education aims to improve nursing practice. Empirically, knowledgeable and competent nurses are more likely to remain in practice. Problem/Context Based Learning (PBL/CBL), a model of self directed contextualised learning, enhances knowledge acquisition, clinical competency, and professional behaviour during the program, however there is very little research about its effectiveness beyond graduation. In 1997, the University of Alberta Faculty of Nursing (FON) established a Collaborative CBL- based Baccalaureate Nursing Program with partner sites in Red Deer, Grande Prairie and Fort McMurray. In a published study, that was funded by TLEF, graduates described how the program contributed to their professional practice. The purpose of this research is to compare how graduates from the CBL program and their provincial non CBL counterparts describe their ability to meet professional practice competencies outlined by the provincial practice association. A professional practice competency survey will be used to collect information from graduates of both CBL and non CBL programs one to two years post graduation. Such information has not been collected this early in the professional career of graduates. Results will be used to refine the curriculum and contribute to best practice in nursing education at the University of Alberta.

Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine

Department of Physical Therapy
Geoff Bostick
, Eric Parent

Reliability of Practical Skills Assessment in Distributed Education

Purpose: to examine the reliability of examining students' practical skills via video conferencing with reference to face-to-face assessment. Innovation: Technology developments have improved the accessibility and quality of distance learning. Even during practical skills laboratories, distance learning experiences appear to be comparable to face-to-face experiences. However, the reliability of the evaluation of students' practical skills via video conferencing is not known. Continued examination of the reliability of assessment as new technologies emerge is needed. Impact: Reliable assessment of students' clinical skills further increases the accessibility of high quality distributed learning. Assessments via distance can reduce costs of delivering distributed education and raises the possibility of soliciting experts remotely to participate in student assessment and providing feedback about their performance. While this study will occur in the context of training physical therapy students via distance, findings will apply to any program requiring remote assessment of students' practical skills.

Faculty of Science

Department of Biological Sciences
Declan Ali, Kelvin Jones, Greg Funk

Development of Computer Simulation Software for Teaching Neuroscience

This proposal supports the funding for the production and implementation of an online web-based neuroscience simulation program. Students (undergraduate and graduate) will be able to visualize electrical communication within the nervous system as information flows from cell to cell. Students will be able to change cellular, membrane and channel properties to test how they affect information flow and will be able to see how specific changes contribute to central nervous system diseases (eg. Multiple Sclerosis, motoneuron disease). The innovative and unique aspect to the proposal is the ability to simulate neuronal behaviour via a user-friendly, interactive, flexible, graphical interface that allows users to rapidly change parameters and observe consequences. The Program will be used in the classroom during lectures, in labs and in seminars. It will be used in problem-based and multi-faceted learning environments to greatly enhance the communication of complex fundamental principles to students in Faculties as diverse as Science, Medicine and Dentistry, and Physical Education and Recreation.

Department of Biological Sciences
Janice Cooke


Contemporizing Plant Physiology by Developing Progressive Experiential Activities that Bridge the Teaching - Learning - Research - Application Continuum

Plants are the underpinnings of natural ecosystem health and integrity, as well as the emergent bioeconomy as sources of food, fibre, energy, chemicals including pharmaceuticals, and phytoremediation. Plants are also ideal systems for inquiry-based experiential activities that allow tangible linkages to be made in the teaching - learning - research - application continuum. Transforming Plant Physiology (Botany 340) through introduction of innovative, progressive, and contemporary activities that enable discovery across the spectrum of learning, research and the real world will equip students with a "critical skills toolkit" that enables these citizens to make meaningful, productive and positive contributions to environmental stewardship and the nascent knowledge-based bioeconomy. TLEF funding specifically will support design, testing, assessment and dissemination of these experiential activities, as well as development of supporting materials for both students and instructors. Undergraduates will be integral to the development and evaluation of these activities.

Department of Chemistry
Glen Loppnow

Science Citizenship: Active(ism) Learning

Science Citizenship (SCI 299) is a novel credit/no-credit, 3 credit hour, year-long course designed to allow student groups to research the science behind a chosen global issue, orally present the results of that research, and implement a local solution to that issue, scheduled for first delivery in 2012-13. The course emphasizes student-centred knowledge construction, peer mentoring, active and discovery learning, effective teamwork, creative problem-solving and citizenship to the community, and has been previously piloted as a project in CHEM 371 and SCI 100. The course also contains aspects of professional development for scientists, such as ethics, societal responsibilities, science culture, proposal writing, scientist characteristics, and career paths. Finally, student groups will be mentored by alumni peers, who gain credit in an associated course (to be developed, modeled after WRS 301) on peer mentoring, building an engaged community of teachers and learners that extends beyond traditional roles.

Department of Chemistry
Todd Lowary
, Hayley Wan, Christine Brzezowski

The SpecMaster: A New Interactive Computer Game to Teach Organic Spectroscopy

Organic spectroscopy involves a difficult multi-level problem solving process of interpreting spectral data obtained for a molecule of interest and then using the clues extracted from the spectra ('molecular snapshots') to solve its structure. We will develop a video game-style program, SpecMaster, as an interactive and entertaining teaching aid that will lead students through this process using multiple-choice questions. SpecMaster will provide extra motivation and amusement with a system of points awarded for correct answers and will have entertaining graphics, scenarios and cartoons. The program will be designed for use in all organic chemistry courses from introductory undergraduate (Chemistry 261/263/298) to advanced undergraduate (Chemistry 361/363) as well as graduate (Chemistry 461/561) classes. SpecMaster will supply pre-lab exercises for these courses and will support learning in lectures. With its combination of interactive problem solving and entertaining game features, SpecMaster will be a unique and important resource for teaching organic spectroscopy.

Department of Physics
Frank Marsiglio


Problem Solving with Computers: Test Trials with Upper Level Physics Courses

Inquiry-based learning has been implemented and evaluated, with considerable success, at the lower undergraduate levels, with emphasis on conceptual or laboratory frameworks. We propose to continue this philosophy to upper level classes, with an emphasis on numerical-based problem solving. Our senior students currently lack skills in using high-level software packages (like the 3M's --- Matlab, Mathematica, and Maple), and we propose to use upper level physics courses as pilot programs for implementing problem solving at this level. Furthermore, our experience to date suggests such a philosophy also brings the students that much closer to a (theoretical) research environment, where students can actually tackle.