Dana Mihaila, MD, PdD
In order to learn material to a point of true understanding, students must develop conclusions on their own in an active learning process, being guided in right direction by their professors. Given that medical, graduate, and health profession students are adult learners, their education should be guided by principles of andragogy, namely: understanding "why" they are learning about a specific topic. When teaching students basic anatomy, I explain concepts by injecting clinical correlates related to the specific subject being discussed. This helps students draw connections to previous experiences in the hospital and also shows them how they will need to use this information to bed help their future patients. Furthermore, by delivering team-based teaching sessions, students are better able to help each other identify the why, helping them better understand and retain the core concepts. Learning by doing. In the anatomy laboratory, students are learning through hands-on dissection, helping them grasp the three-dimensional relationship between different anatomical structures. Furthermore, this helps them better appreciate anatomical variations. Solving real-life problems. Discussions of the anatomy topics take place in a small group setting and are based on actual clinical cases that are pertinent with the content of specific sessions. Students will engage in reflective dialogue and they are encouraged to consider various perspectives. During these sessions, I provide feedback that challenges learner's assumptions and deepens their critical thinking and clinical reasoning approach.
In addition to these principles, mastery requires learning to occur in multiple layers. Students should first engage with the material on their own, gaining confidence through independent research and building a foundation. Then, in the classroom, active discussion between students and with professors can be sed to help guide each individual to fill in the gaps from their independent learning. Finally, working together to solve problems hones students' reasoning abilities and cements the basic information on which the problems are built. In my experience, students' feedback along the years was very important in designing and polishing the in-person sessions. In my opinion, we cannot accomplish a good result if we as educators don't create a learning climate that is trusting, empathetic, and caring. A positive learning environment is the basis of my teaching philosophy. I give students immediate and helpful feedback promoting their autonomy, participation, and collaboration.