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TLC Hot Take August 2022

There have been many lessons learned over the past few years about how to form, maintain and leverage different tools to engage our learners, both from afar and in person. This year’s Horizon Report further supports that learning should not be limited to what we can offer within the four walls of our educational setting. But how do we reap the benefits of those lessons in a way that is appropriate and relevant to our goals? The consensus is to start small. For example, Penn State has shifted to offering additional technical assistance in real-time through synchronous virtual meetings. Offering additional opportunities and creative methods for completing office hours may be an adjustment that will encourage more students to seek the support they need to be successful. To learn more about how can you use different modalities and platforms to reach and support your students, check out the 2022 Horizon Report.

One of the highlighted tools in this year’s Horizon report is analytics and the use of data to improve student learning outcomes. Canvas offers opportunities to track student engagement metrics such as page views, late assignment submissions, and amount of time spent viewing content. Learn more about these features and ways to help meet learning needs early by reading this Canvas instructor guide.

To clarify the many activities associated with Educational Research, over the next several months we will explain common terminology you may hear during the TLC Spring Seminar Series and new TLC Podcast. 

Discipline-Based Educational Research (DBER) is often considered a subset of SoTL that focuses on testing theories and exploring teaching and learning within a given discipline, typically STEM and related fields. In DBER researchers ask questions about how students learn concepts and develop expertise in a field of study with the goal of generating knowledge that is applicable to diverse instructional contexts and courses. Like SoTL, DBER is often disseminated to the public through a range of scholarly works. Read more about DBER here.

To clarify the many activities associated with Educational Research, over the next several months we will explain common terminology you may hear during the TLC Spring Seminar Series and new TLC Podcast. 

Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) seeks to answer the what and the how about teaching and learning through full, formal, systematic research studies that produce generalizable knowledge intended to be disseminated to a public audience (through means such as peer-reviewed manuscripts or conference presentations). In SoTL, the primary researchers are often instructors and the inquiry may include qualitative and/or quantitative approaches. This guide provides more information on SoTL. 

To clarify the many activities associated with Educational Research, over the next several months we will explain common terminology you may hear during the TLC Spring Seminar Series and new TLC Podcast. 

Action research is a form of scholarly activity used by educators in higher education as a way to efficiently 1) investigate one’s own teaching and facilitation practice, with the dual purpose of 2) contributing to theoretical knowledge to the benefit of student learning. Action research is worthwhile for ATSU educators interested in enhancing their instructional skills, at the same time furthering their own research productivity. Action research is a broad term incorporating many different research approaches and methods. For instance, Teaching as Research (TAR) involves applying a research-based approach to one’s teaching practice. The TAR process includes developing a hypothesis for a practice that seeks to improve an aspect of the teaching and learning experience in one’s classroom, implementing that practice, analyzing learning outcomes, and finally reflecting and iterating. Generally, TAR projects are small-scale and exploratory, seeking to explore what can improve student learning in a given course rather than creating widely generalizable knowledge. As such, TAR projects are often not designed with the intention of producing peer-reviewed outputs, but rather to continually improve one’s own teaching. This brief video provides more information on TAR and examples of TAR projects can be found here.   

To clarify the many activities associated with Educational Research, over the next several months we will explain common terminology you may hear during the TLC Spring Seminar Series and new TLC Podcast. 

Scholarly Teaching describes the intentional practice of reading, analyzing, and applying scholarly literature on teaching and learning to one’s teaching practice in order to improve student outcomes. This activity can also include consulting with other educators. Learn more about scholarly teaching here.

According to the American Educational Research Association (AERA), educational research is the “scientific field of study that examines education and learning processes and the human attributes, interactions, organizations, and institutions that shape educational outcomes.” Those who take part in this research study the science of learning in all formal or informal educational settings throughout a person’s lifespan. Educational research may be used to address teaching and learning challenges, sharpen one’s teaching skills, and inform teaching practices.

This month, The Center for the Future of the Health Professions will be posting another monthly op-ed column for 2021. Our columns represent strong, informed, and focused opinions on issues that affect the future of the health professions. As mentioned in the past, the center was developed to provide state, local, and national policymakers and health system stakeholders with accurate, reliable, and comprehensive data and research about the healthcare workforce, so they can effectively plan for a sustainable future and make the best use of available resources.

This month features a discussion titled “The Pandemic: Potential Renaissance or a Missed Opportunity for the Future of Public Health?” by a trio of public health professionals at A.T. Still University’s College of Graduate Health Studies – Mary-Katherine McNatt, DrPH, MPH, MCHES, CPH, COI, chair and associate professor, public health; Marsha Presley, PhD, MPH, research associate, public health; and Jaana Gold, DDS, PhD, MPH, CPH, professor, public health.

Face mask mandates, COVID vaccination clinics, and hand sanitizer recommendations. After living through a COVID-19 pandemic for the past 20 months, the general public has frequently associated these terms with public health. For the public health professional, public health means so much more, especially with the profession’s future facing a critical and pivotal turning point. 

Historically, public health has ensured the health of communities and their populations primarily through disease prevention and investigation and health promotion and education. For centuries, public health has ensured safe drinking water, mandated childhood vaccines against dangerous diseases, and led investigations to determine the source of foodborne outbreaks. While much more went on behind the scenes, little was known by the general public about this overlooked profession. If public health was talked about in the media, that meant there was a crisis or what we in the profession call “game day,” which meant a full-scale public health response was required.

For the past 20 months, communities have faced one public health crisis after another: the COVID-19 pandemic, hurricanes,1,2 wildfires,3 systemic and violent racism,4,5,6 riots and social unrest,7 social isolation,8,9, 10 food insecurities,10 limited healthcare access,10 and more. For the first time in a long time, public health was all over the media. Initially, the public began to understand the importance of the public health profession. Moreover, mainstream media was finally discussing that health was affected by where one lived and the environment in which one worked. There was a glimmer of hope that acknowledging health disparities meant we might finally begin to address the root causes and communities and government agencies would collaborate to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

As quickly as that hope came, bleak reality set in. Science and public health suddenly became politicized. Proven infection control methods became controversial to many in society. Public health officials, professionals, educators, and researchers were disparaged, threatened, and even physically harmed,11 with threats extending to their family members. Many public health workers even quit their jobs due to the stress and threats.11

What many public health professionals have prepared for their entire career and thought it would be an opportunity for public health to shine turned into an uphill battle. In the past, public health professionals were viewed as respected individuals of science. Now, with so many people dismissing science as authoritative, we must reprove ourselves and our knowledge base. We must prove that our expertise is authentic.12

One problem was public health officials were muzzled early in the pandemic.13 Detailed preparedness plans had been developed in 2009, but most had not been updated or reviewed since then.14 Once the pandemic hit, politicians feared economic backlash more than they feared the deaths of their constituents. Well-developed plans lay fallow. When public health officials were allowed to speak, politicians, protagonists, and hucksters all vied to undermine their messages. People died by the hundreds of thousands.15

The elusive nature of a novel virus, fatal to so many, yet completely asymptomatic in others, added to the public’s confusion. Surviving infection was seen as proof the threat pandemic was overblown. Anger and fear replaced reason. When data indicated long-vulnerable populations with pre-existing health inequities were more likely to die from infection, the message received was a robust and healthy person would survive the pandemic. Dominant messaging showed no pity for the weak, and there was little push to correct imbalances in health equity. When novel vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 were developed in apparently record time,16 American ingenuity was not celebrated. Instead, misinformation campaigns17 sold the vaccines as dangerous and untrustworthy. As billions hesitate or refuse to be vaccinated, the pandemic continues to rampage out of control.15

Nevertheless, hope remains. Rising vaccination rates18 will hopefully allow us to establish a level of control over the virus in the near future. While the pandemic by itself may not have piqued enough of the public’s empathy for vulnerable populations, the viral video of the murder of a man in police custody by an indifferent and apparently nonrepentant police officer19 demonstrated racism is an ongoing affliction that needs to be eradicated. Following the murder, numerous TV shows and videos, journal articles, and social media posts addressed the ongoing effects of racism, including structural racism and health inequities, that affect black populations and other people of color. At least some white people are listening.

The pandemic has taught us many valuable and challenging lessons. We have had to stand up for our profession and defend every decision. Through true passion and strength, public health professionals have survived in the public health field these past months. Public health as a profession is facing a critical transition period, a time where every small decision will affect the long-term future of and the public’s trust and perception of the profession. Throughout history, from a scientific perspective, pandemics have served as turning points. For example, in the Middle Ages, the bubonic plague pandemic led to the start of the Renaissance period.20 Will the COVID-19 pandemic serve to introduce a similar transformative period, or will it become a missed opportunity?

References:

1Shultz JM, Kossin JP, Hertelendy A, et al. Mitigating the Twin Threats of Climate-Driven Atlantic Hurricanes and COVID-19 Transmission. Disaster Med Public Health Prep. 2020;14(4):494-503. doi:10.1017/dmp.2020.243

2Shultz JM, Kossin JP, Ali A, et al. Superimposed Threats To Population Health From Tropical Cyclones in the Prevaccine Era of COVID-19. Lancet. 2020;4(11):e506-e508. doi:10.1016/S2542-5196(20)30250-3

3Wildfires—A Growing Public Health Crisis. AJN. 2020;120(12):14. doi:10.1097/01.NAJ.0000724172.95963.d3

4Racism is an Ongoing Public Health Crisis That Needs Our Attention Now. APHA.org. https://www.apha.org/news-and-media/news-releases/apha-news-releases/2020/racism-is-a-public-health-crisis. Published May 09, 2020. Accessed October 08, 2021.

5Racism is a Public Health Issue: What George Floyd’s Death Can Teach Funders. The Colorado Health Foundation. https://coloradohealth.org/insights/good-health/racism-public-health-issue-what-george-floyds-death-can-teach-funders. Published June 01, 2020. Accessed October 08, 2021.

6Timeline of Violence as a Public Health Problem. cdc.gov. https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/about/timeline.html. Accessed October 08, 2021.

7Bylander J. Civil Unrest, Police Use Of Force, And The Public’s Health. Health Aff. 2015;34(8). doi:10.1377/hlthaff.2015.0717

8Loneliness and Social Isolation Linked to Serious Health Conditions. cdc.gov. https://www.cdc.gov/aging/publications/features/lonely-older-adults.html. Accessed October 08, 2021.

9Holt-Lunstad J. Social Isolation And Health. Health Aff. https://www.healthaffairs.org/do/10.1377/hpb20200622.253235/full/. Published June 21, 2020. Accessed October 08, 2021.

10O’Connor SW. 4 Key Public Health Issues in 2021. Northeastern.edu. https://www.northeastern.edu/graduate/blog/public-health-issues/ Published April 20, 2020. Accessed October 08, 2021.

11Mello MM, Greene JA, Sharfstein JM. Attacks on Public Health Officials During COVID-19. JAMA. 2020;324(8):741-742. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.14423

12Simmons-Duffin S. Poll Finds Public Health Has A Trust Problem. npr.org. https://www.npr.org/2021/05/13/996331692/poll-finds-public-health-has-a-trust-problem. Published May 13, 2021. Accessed October 08, 2021.

13Schwitzer G. Federal Health Agencies Block Journalists’ Access to Covid-19 Experts & Information. HealthNewsReview.org. Published March 26, 2020. Updated April 03, 2020. Accessed October 08, 2021.

14Amesh AA, Toner E, Inglesby TV, MD. Priorities for the US Health Community Responding to COVID-19. JAMA. 2020;323(14):1343-1344. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.3413

15COVID-19 United States Cases by County. jhu.edu. https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/us-map. Updated daily. Accessed October 08, 2021.

16Petri W. COVID-19 Vaccines Were Developed in Record Time – But are These Game-Changers Safe? The Conversation. https://theconversation.com/covid-19-vaccines-were-developed-in-record-time-but-are-these-game-changers-safe-150249. Published November 20, 2020. Accessed October 08, 2021.

17Pazzanese C. Battling the ‘Pandemic of Misinformation’. Harvard.edu. https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2020/05/social-media-used-to-spread-create-covid-19-falsehoods/. Published May 08, 2021. Accessed October 08, 2021.

18Adams K. States ranked by percentage of population fully vaccinated: Oct. 8. Beckershospitalreview.com. https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/public-health/states-ranked-by-percentage-of-population-vaccinated-march-15.html Updated daily. Accessed October 08, 2021.

19Hernandez J. Read This Powerful Statement From Darnella Frazier, Who Filmed George Floyd’s Murder. npr.org. https://www.npr.org/2021/05/26/1000475344/read-this-powerful-statement-from-darnella-frazier-who-filmed-george-floyds-murd. Published May 26, 2021. Accessed October 08, 2021.

20Friedell E, Janik A. A cultural history of the modern age: renaissance and reformation. Oxford: Routledge; 2017.

In order to achieve proficiency in a new skill or subject area, you must first become familiar with the commonly associated terminology.

Instructional Strategies are the techniques used to sequence and organize units of the teaching and learning experience. Examples of instructional strategies include case-based learning, team-based learning, and problem-based learning. Think about instructional strategies as the sport you and your students will play – identifying the sport sets up expectations for what tools you will need to use, what rules you will play by, and the structure your unit of instruction will take. Choosing instructional strategies intentionally helps you align your instruction to the learning goals and helps to establish the teaching techniques and classroom activities you will use to deliver your content. Check out these practical examples of instructional strategies and consider how you might adapt them to your own teaching and learning contexts.   

Students enter the classroom with different levels of experience and background knowledge. But it can be difficult to create content that supports all learners while challenging each person appropriately. MasteryPaths is an incredibly powerful tool built into Canvas that allows you to customize the learning experience for your students based on their performance. For example, students who have demonstrated competence in a particular topic can be directed to one set of activities, while students who require additional practice can be directed to resources or remediation activities to help them get back on track.

How confident are you that you know these pedagogical terms and concepts? Stay tuned, because you will have the opportunity to test your knowledge next month!

In order to achieve proficiency in a new skill or subject area, you must first become familiar with the common associated terminology. To prepare you for our fall seminar series focused on innovation in health science education, we will review some important terminology over the next several months that will be helpful during our conversations.

If you have ever used flashcards to study, you have used an evidence-based learning technique called spaced repetition. Spaced repetition (also known as distributed practice) is an effective learning technique that leverages regularly reviewing information over time to commit information to long-term memory. Both handmade paper and web or app-based flashcards use this principle to allow students to more frequently review new content or concepts they are finding difficult which maximizes learning. Utilizing this system makes time spent studying more efficient.

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is one framework for curriculum and course design that seeks to create learning environments where all students are engaged, supported, and appropriately challenged. UDL was defined by the Center for Applied Special Technology based on teaching and learning science and presents guidelines for increasing learning outcomes and reducing barriers to engagement. Learn more about educators applying UDL to their graduate health sciences courses including anatomy and occupational therapy.

How confident are you that you know these pedagogical terms and concepts? Stay tuned, because you will have the opportunity to test your knowledge at the conclusion of the seminar series.

ATSU RESEARCH NEWSLETTERS