A student-centered approach focuses on what and how a student learns and develops rather than on what an instructor teaches. Educators in RFUMS educational programs view the student as the most important part of the learning process. Each deliberately includes strategies that facilitate meaningful and contextual learning experiences. Methods that promote the use of an adaptive/ blended curriculum as well as redefining the role of the student and educator are central to creating a student-centered environment.
Student ownership in the learning process – redefining the role of the student
Students reach their highest potential when actively and consistently engaged in the pursuit of their own professional excellence. It is well understood that learning best occurs when a sense of ownership is instilled in the student with regard to the acquisition of knowledge, skill, and attitudes. The traditional, passive role of the student must be challenged to assist learners in acquiring the skills necessary to be self-directed life-long learners and value their independent and continued development throughout professional life. The RFUMS commitment to promoting student ownership and accountability in the learning process is repeatedly integrated throughout the educational endeavor as well as when considering applicants who are likely to succeed in this environment.
Facilitator and mentor – redefining the role of the educator
As emphasis is placed on putting the student at the center of the learning process, the traditional role of the educator must also be redefined. Educators utilize facilitator and mentoring roles to assist students in the acquisition of knowledge, skills, and attitudes rather than deliver information through traditional lecture based formats. The goal of educating is to empower students to vigorously pursue their own professional and career development through the use of innovative formal instruction and intentional strategies in the larger university community. While it is recognized that traditional passive delivery instructional methods have value, educators also value utilizing active strategies that engage learners in the quest for knowledge. Faculty development opportunities promote recognized methods of facilitator based instructional strategies.
Learning is shifting from the authority-dependent paradigm to a collaborative model dominated by a peer-to-peer and collegial problem-solving model to accommodate enormous knowledge expansion and rapid changes in technology. The RFUMS educational programs promote mastery of collaborative learning strategies within and among all the professional learners in the University. From the classroom to the clinic, knowledge management and utilization within interprofessional groups is present. Shared learning and social environments are common and the network of extracurricular activities reflects the collegial and collaborative nature of the University family. Interprofesional learning permeates the total student experience including governance activities and service. The environment supporting this interprofessional learning is consistently enriched and refined to directly promote an innovative, patient-centered healthcare system based on interprofessionalism.
Integration of an adaptive (blended) curriculum
In response to the varied learning styles recognized in diverse learning populations, an adaptive curriculum modifies and personalizes learning by designing instructional experiences geared to the specific needs of individual students. This may include blending several modalities (audio, visual, kinesthetic, etc) in varied settings (classroom, clinic, community and online) when delivering curriculum and during the assessment process. Varied technologies are available to allow students multiple methods of accessing core knowledge and to acquire and integrate new skills. Additionally, varied assessment strategies such as performance-based measures and portfolios are implemented in order to capture and document the appropriate acquisition of knowledge, skill, and attitudes during the training process.
Curricular development is founded in clearly recognized competencies. Varied professions have specific unique competencies, and all professions have a well-developed plan to integrate competencies at multiple points during training. In addition to program-specific competencies, the University integrates core competencies that span the healthcare professions. Personal and professional ethics are a dominate value for all.
Assessment is routinely and consistently implemented to validate student learning outcomes. It occurs at multiple levels including focusing on individual student performance, effectiveness of curricular content, methods, resources and processes, as well as, faculty performance. Assessment involves both formative and summative components and is implemented with sufficient frequency to preemptively identify and correct deficiencies. Assessment also varies both in how it is done (knowledge-based, performance-based, survey-based, Portfolio-based etc.) and who completes it (faculty, peer, self, patient, etc.). Finally, we employ an assessment loop to ensure that all data analysis and resultant changes have the intended impact fostering student growth and curricular improvement.
Innovative curricular and resource growth supported by best educational practice
Just as evidence-based practice provides a foundation for the delivery of an appropriate standard of medical care, the integration of curriculum and delivery of content is guided by proven best practices and standards in education. As the breadth and depth of available knowledge continues to grow and demands of training continue to evolve, curricular development will focus on strategies proven to meet these needs. Acquisition of technology and other resources will be guided by their proven effectiveness in similar educational settings and demographics. Additionally, faculty are well supported in their academic growth as educators and encouraged to conduct educational research that advances their respective professions.
The above principles, taken together, define a comprehensive and collaborative approach to the education of healthcare professionals at The Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science.