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      Key elements in assessing the educational environment: where is the theory?


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          The educational environment has been increasingly acknowledged as vital for high-quality medical education. As a result, several instruments have been developed to measure medical educational environment quality. However, there appears to be no consensus about which concepts should be measured. The absence of a theoretical framework may explain this lack of consensus. Therefore, we aimed to (1) find a comprehensive theoretical framework defining the essential concepts, and (2) test its applicability. An initial review of the medical educational environment literature indicated that such frameworks are lacking. Therefore, we chose an alternative approach to lead us to relevant frameworks from outside the medical educational field; that is, we applied a snowballing technique to find educational environment instruments used to build the contents of the medical ones and investigated their theoretical underpinnings ( Study 1). We found two frameworks, one of which was described as incomplete and one of which defines three domains as the key elements of human environments ( personal development/goal direction, relationships, and system maintenance and system change) and has been validated in different contexts. To test its applicability, we investigated whether the items of nine medical educational environment instruments could be mapped unto the framework ( Study 2). Of 374 items, 94% could: 256 (68%) pertained to a single domain, 94 (25%) to more than one domain. In our context, these domains were found to concern goal orientation, relationships and organization/regulation. We conclude that this framework is applicable and comprehensive, and recommend using it as theoretical underpinning for medical educational environment measures.

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          Experience-based learning: a model linking the processes and outcomes of medical students' workplace learning.

          To develop a model linking the processes and outcomes of workplace learning. We synthesised a model from grounded theory analysis of group discussions before and after experimental strengthening of medical students' workplace learning. The research was conducted within a problem-based clinical curriculum with little early workplace experience, involving 24 junior and 12 senior medical students. To reach their ultimate goal of helping patients, medical students must develop 2 qualities. One is practical competence; the other is a state of mind that includes confidence, motivation and a sense of professional identity. These 2 qualities reinforce one another. The core process of clinical workplace learning involves 'participation in practice', which evolves along a spectrum from passive observation to performance. Practitioners help students participate by being both supportive and challenging. The presentation of clear learning objectives and continuous periods of attachment that are as personal to the student(s) and practitioner(s) as possible promote workplace learning. The core condition for clinical workplace learning is 'supported participation', the various outcomes of which are mutually reinforcing and also reinforce students' ability to participate in further practice. This synthesis has 2 important implications for contemporary medical education: any reduction in medical students' participation in clinical practice that results from the patient safety agenda and expanded numbers of medical students is likely to have an adverse effect on learning, and the construct of 'self-directed learning', which our respondents too often found synonymous with 'lack of support', should be applied with very great caution to medical students' learning in clinical workplaces.
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            AMEE Guide no. 34: Teaching in the clinical environment.

            Teaching in the clinical environment is a demanding, complex and often frustrating task, a task many clinicians assume without adequate preparation or orientation. Twelve roles have previously been described for medical teachers, grouped into six major tasks: (1) the information provider; (2) the role model; (3) the facilitator; (4) the assessor; (5) the curriculum and course planner; and (6) the resource material creator (Harden & Crosby 2000). It is clear that many of these roles require a teacher to be more than a medical expert. In a pure educational setting, teachers may have limited roles, but the clinical teacher often plays many roles simultaneously, switching from one role to another during the same encounter. The large majority of clinical teachers around the world have received rigorous training in medical knowledge and skills but little to none in teaching. As physicians become ever busier in their own clinical practice, being effective teachers becomes more challenging in the context of expanding clinical responsibilities and shrinking time for teaching (Prideaux et al. 2000). Clinicians on the frontline are often unaware of educational mandates from licensing and accreditation bodies as well as medical schools and postgraduate training programmes and this has major implications for staff training. Institutions need to provide necessary orientation and training for their clinical teachers. This Guide looks at the many challenges for teachers in the clinical environment, application of relevant educational theories to the clinical context and practical teaching tips for clinical teachers. This guide will concentrate on the hospital setting as teaching within the community is the subject of another AMEE guide.
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              AMEE Medical Education Guide No. 23 (Part 1): Curriculum, environment, climate, quality and change in medical education-a unifying perspective.

              J Genn (2001)
              This paper looks at five focal terms in education - curriculum, environment, climate, quality and change - and the interrelationships and dynamics between and among them. It emphasizes the power and utility of the concept of climate as an operationalization or manifestation of the curriculum and the other three concepts. Ideas pertaining to the theory of climate and its measurement can provide a greater understanding of the medical curriculum. The learning environment is an important determinant of behaviour. Environment is perceived by students and it is perceptions of environment that are related to behaviour. The environment, as perceived, may be designated as climate. It is argued that the climate is the soul and spirit of the medical school environment and curriculum. Students' experiences of the climate of their medical education environment are related to their achievements, satisfaction and success. Measures of educational climate are reviewed and climate measures for medical education are discussed. These should take account of current trends in medical education and curricula. Measures of the climate may subdivide it into different components giving, for example, a separate assessment of so-called Faculty Press, Student Press, Administration Press and Physical or Material Environmental Press. Climate measures can be used in different modes with the same stakeholders. For example, students may be asked to report, first, their perceptions of the actual environment they have experienced and, second, to report on their ideal or preferred environment. The same climate index can be used with different stakeholders giving, for example, staff and student comparisons. In addition to the educational climate of the environment that students inhabit, it is important to consider the organizational climate of the work environment that staff inhabit. This organizational climate is very significant, not only for staff, but for their students, too. The medical school is a learning organization evolving and changing in the illuminative evaluation it makes of its environment and its curriculum through the action research studies of its climate. Considerations of climate in the medical school, along the lines of continuous quality improvement and innovation, are likely to further the medical school as a learning organization with the attendant benefits. Unless medical schools become such learning organizations, their quality of health and their longevity may be threatened.

                Author and article information

                +31-50-3638378 , +31-50-3637390 , j.schonrock-adema@umcg.nl
                Adv Health Sci Educ Theory Pract
                Adv Health Sci Educ Theory Pract
                Advances in Health Sciences Education
                Springer Netherlands (Dordrecht )
                4 February 2012
                4 February 2012
                December 2012
                : 17
                : 5
                : 727-742
                Center for Research and Innovation in Medical Education, University of Groningen & University Medical Center Groningen, Antonius Deusinglaan 1, 9713 AV Groningen, The Netherlands
                © The Author(s) 2012
                : 19 July 2011
                : 23 December 2011
                Custom metadata
                © Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

                educational environment,instrument development,learning environment,medical education,theoretical framework


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