Research to Actions Interview With Asma Ali, Ph.D., ERM

In this interview, we sit down with Asma Ali, Ph.D., ERM, founder and principal consultant at AA& Associates LLC. And we’ll discuss her 2016 JCEHP publication, “Learning Scaffolds: Progressive Instructional Design for Problem-Based Learning.”

As with each interview, in our discussion we explored our four basics research to actions questions and hope to help the community find some actionable lessons from Dr. Ali’s recent research. 

Here is a quick summary of what Dr. Ali shared:

  1. What was the problem or question you set out to answer?
    • Problem-based learning (PBL) is often considered an important adult-centric learning strategy that promotes practice-based improvements. In reality, the length of live meeting often makes it difficult to create robust and engaging PBL opportunities, especially in multidisciplinary settings.
    • Learning scaffolds are instructional design strategies that can support learner preparation for PBL. Using examples obtained from a one-day live multidisciplinary cancer education program, five instructional scaffolds were identified that enhanced the PBL learning experience: 1) benchmarking, 2) modeling, 3) knowledge/skill building, 4) faculty support/feedback, and 5) public display/assessment.
    • We wanted to explore whether learning scaffolds could effectively support PBL in a live CME activity.
  2. What were the methods you applied to answer the question?
    • Multidisciplinary problem-based learning is advanced and supported by multiple learner touch points with the materials. The effectiveness of the scaffolds was applied by triangulating three data sources: 1) pre/post assessments, 2) learner satisfaction surveys, and 3) practice-based, follow-up surveys.
  3. What did you learn?
    • PBL, when adequately supported by multiple instructional scaffolds during a live CME activity, results in increases on Moore’s levels 1-5, in critical skills of teamwork, and communication on the multidisciplinary team.
  4. How do you think this could be applied in practice?
    • PBL can be implemented to support communication and teamwork in short-term live CME sessions.
    • To support multidisciplinary team communication and teamwork, activities should consider incorporating multiple scaffolding opportunities to expose healthcare learners to the learning objectives of the PBL.
    • Data triangulation can be used provide evidence for the success of multidisciplinary team-based activities, using both self-reported data and “testing” evidence.

If you learned something with this episode, please share the lessons and share the link with your colleagues. The Almanac is open access, meaning everyone in your organization or professional social network can benefit.

Please feel free to reach out if you have suggestions on folks you’d like to see us interview. Or maybe there are published articles you would like to see deconstructed or simplified. Just let us know. You can contact me through LinkedIn or Twitter @briansmcgowan.

Keep in mind that with every educational program we build, there are a thousand opportunities to ask a research question, and with every research article that is published there are dozens of lessons to learn. You don’t have to be a research scientist to build great training experiences, but you do need to embrace what the literature says and move past the status quo.

Thanks for joining us and until next time, NEVER STOP LEARNING.

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