HMS

Understanding pathophysiology with real-life vignettes

This issue of Into Practice is adapted from Instructional Moves content produced by the Teaching and Learning Lab at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. 

Barbara Cockrill, Harold Amos Academy Associate Professor of MedicineBarbara Cockrill, Harold Amos Academy Associate Professor of Medicine, uses case-based collaborative learning (CBCL) in her Homeostasis I course to help medical students explore real-life clinical scenarios they may face as practitioners. Case discussions start in cohorts of four students, formed at the beginning of the course, and focus on a series of questions. Discussion continues with the full class of 40 students, facilitated by Cockrill and other medical school faculty.

The benefits: Students say that having a concrete vignette to refer back to later in their training helps their learning “stick.”... Read more about Understanding pathophysiology with real-life vignettes

Helping students see themselves as scientists


Kevin EgganWhen Dr. Kevin Eggan, Professor of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology, did research as an undergraduate, it “transformed for me what science was and what it could be.” His Precision Genetics and Gene Therapy year-long course offers sophomores a similar opportunity. In the fall, students are introduced to a “jamboree of recent medical discoveries in Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).” Working in small groups, they explore and then choose a gene to focus on. In the spring, they continue in small groups to experiment on mice, learn tools for analyzing the data they generate,... Read more about Helping students see themselves as scientists

Identifying knowledge gaps through illustrations


Carl Novina, Into PracticeDr. Carl Novina, Associate Professor of Medicine, and his co-instructor Shannon Turley, amended the traditional graduate seminar Critical Reading for Immunology  to teach students comprehension and presentation skills essential to a career in biomedical science. To introduce a topic, students read research papers and present a focused background on the field the paper sought to advance. Then, rather than discussing the paper linearly, students select a key figure that best highlighted the main point. Throughout the semester,students revisit central points of papers and diagram them on the white board—“an effective means to help students better process... Read more about Identifying knowledge gaps through illustrations

Perspective-taking and humility training with medical case studies


Sadath SayeedDr. Sadath Sayeed, Assistant Professor of Global Health and Social Medicine, introduces issues of ethical reasoning in medicine (e.g., confidentiality, professional boundaries, conflicts of interest, informed consent) with hypothetical cases and vignettes.

The benefits: Discussing anonymized cases helps first-year students in “Medical Ethics and Professionalism” (one component of Harvard Medical School required course Essentials of the Profession) contend with abstract considerations and terminology: “For example: autonomy. I... Read more about Perspective-taking and humility training with medical case studies

Feedback vs. evaluation: Getting past the reluctance to deliver negative feedback

Keith Baker

When Dr. Keith Baker, Associate Professor of Anaesthesia at Harvard Medical School and Director of the Anesthesia Residency Program at Massachusetts General Hospital, gives medical residents feedback, he emphasizes a “learning orientation” (where the goal is mastery), rather than a “performance orientation” (where the goal is validation of abilities).

The benefits: Framing feedback with a learning orientation creates a supportive learning environment where the instructor and student share the goal of improvement and believe that effort and strategy are the tools to achieve it. Feedback is diagnostic information used to know what and how to improve. “A learning orientation is critical for tolerating negative feedback and strongly influences how you give and receive feedback.”... Read more about Feedback vs. evaluation: Getting past the reluctance to deliver negative feedback