The Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE) is constantly implementing programs to improve teaching and to provide support for faculty professional development. In the Summer of 2020, CTE hosted a successful workshop series focusing on effective online and hybrid instruction for the joint faculty of the School of Medicine-Columbia (SOM-C) and the School of Medicine-Greenville (SOM-G). When planning for Summer 2021 professional development opportunities, the leadership of both medical schools and the CTE decided on a different focus. Casey Carroll, instructional designer at CTE, collaborated with both of the institutions to build the foundations of a new program.
“We decided we wanted to launch something more targeted and comprehensive than just a workshop series,” Carroll said. “So, we decided on a short course that was really focused on the medical educators and building collegiality and comradery between the two institutions.”
In response to an increasing need for faculty in the medical schools to network and engage in reflective teaching practices, CTE developed the Reflective Teaching Practices for Medical Educators (RTPforME) program. In a cohort model, RTPforME consists of live, interactive webinars, asynchronous modules, one-on-one consultations with an instructional designer, and a final teaching project. Participants are provided with a Cohort Leader, an experienced instructional designer who coaches them through the program.
While networking with other faculty members and learning about reflective teaching practices through different modules, participants work on their own personalized teaching project. This gives faculty the opportunity to take what they’ve learned throughout the program and apply it to an area of their teaching that they would like to improve.
“It is essentially the thread through the whole program. It's a unique feature because it's not anything that we’re dictating. We provide some resources and support but it's whatever the individual faculty member finds valuable or needs to work on. Some people are doing something focused on an individual lecture and others are working on curriculum for a whole program,” Carroll said.
Donna Ray, Director, Faculty Development in the Office of CPD and Strategic Affairs at SOM-C, and Penny Edwards, Faculty Development Program Manager in the Office of Faculty Development at SOM-G, worked closely with Carroll when launching the program.
“If it had not been for the involvement of CTE, RTPforME wouldn’t have happened for our faculty,” Edwards said. “They took some of their existing protocols and modified it to fit our needs. They did an amazing job listening to our suggestions and morphed that into an outline of what RTPforME would look like.”
Ray and Edwards saw that there was a mutual interest across both schools to foster conversations and learn from one another.
“Persons who have training as teachers, specifically as educators, are currently taught this kind of reflective practice and it has not historically been part of what we do for other professionals who teach,” Ray said. “In our case, we have both physicians and foundational science professors who have great skill and interest but, may or may not have been introduced to that reflective teaching practice.”
The first cohort of the program had a successful run in the summer of 2021 with 17 faculty from the two medical schools completing the program. CTE is looking forward to seeing the impact that this program has on medical educators and hopes to accept more participants in the future.