Article of the Month a resource from the Office of Educational Improvement (OEI) within the Department of Academic Affairs. Each month we identify an article that should be of interest to our teaching faculty.

Interested in commenting on an article?

We have a Yammer discussion forum for Article of the Month.

  • If you’re already a member of the MCW Yammer group Article of the Month, simply login to the discussion area for commenting.
  • Not a member of the discussion forum yet? Simply log into Yammer. Once on the homepage, click the login link and use your MCW email address and password.

For any questions, please contact us:


July 2018: "Twelve Tips for Creating an Academic Teaching Portfolio"

July’s article discusses how to approach creating an academic teaching portfolio.The authors share twelve tips for organizing and reporting your teaching activities.

Tips include:

  • Prepare in advance to allow yourself time to collect, collate, and reflect
  • Review your CV to ensure it is updated
  • Establish a “shoebox” to collect your information
  • Collect evidence of the quality of your teaching
  • Participate in peer review of your teaching
  • Provide mentorship
  • Solicit letters of support
  • Demonstrate evidence of scholarship
  • Think about your goals and objectives
  • Write down your educational philosophy
  • Document your professional development
  • Have an expert review your portfolio prior to submitting it

"Twelve Tips for Creating an Academic Teaching Portfolio"

Little-Weinert, K., and Mazziotti, M. (2018). Twelve tips for creating an academic teaching portfolio. Medical Teacher, 40(1), 26-30.

June 2018: "What to Do About Those Negative Comments on Course Evaluations"

June’s article discusses how to respond to negative comments on course evaluations. The author discusses personal reactions to negative student comments and suggests ways to avoid over-reacting.

Suggestions include:

  • Step back
  • Look again later
  • Decide what you’re going to do
  • Talk to a trusted colleague
  • Talk to a few students
  • Recognize that you are not alone

"What to Do About Those Negative Comments on Course Evaluations"

Weimer, M. (2018, May 30). What to do about those negative comments on course evaluations. Faculty Focus, Teaching Professor Blog.

May 2018: "When I say ... resilience"

May’s article defines the term “resilience” in the medical education context and discusses why resilience training is important to our learners. The authors discuss challenges healthcare learners face in a fast-paced, dynamic practice environment and the consequences of burnout.

Insights include:

  • Protection against burnout requires development and promotion of interventions to foster resilience amongst trainees.
  • Individual interventions are unlikely to be effective on their own in addressing the complex issue of resiliency and burnout.
  • Prevention of burnout calls for defining resilience in the context of overcoming adversity rather than as an intrinsic personal attribute.

"When I say…resilience"

Teodorczuk, A., Thomson, R., Chan, K., and Rogers, G.D. (2017). When I say…resilience. Medical Education, 51(12): 1206-1208.   

February 2018: "Criterion-Based Assessment in a Norm-Based World: How Can We Move Past Grades?"

February’s article discusses opportunities and challenges with transitioning to competency-based assessment and grading in undergraduate medical education (UME). The authors discuss progress made in graduate medical education with development and implementation of competencies and milestones.

Insights include:

  • UME struggles with transitioning to competency-based medical education due to a continued reliance on grades.
  • Reliance on proxy assessments rather than direct observation of learners continues to be problematic in UME.
  • Use of norm-based criteria in the residency application process places pressure to provide this type of data to programs.
  • Successful implementation of competency-based assessment will require consensus between UME and graduate medical education. 

"Criterion-Based Assessment in a Norm-Based World: How Can We Move Past Grades?"

Pereira, A.G., Woods, M., Olson, A.P.J., van den Hoogenhof. S., Duffy, B.L., and Englander, R (2017). Criterion-based assessment in a norm-based world: Can we move past grades? Academic Medicine. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000001939.  

January 2018: Relationships between Academic and Community Physicians

January’s article of the month shares one physician’s thoughts on the relationships between academic and community physicians. The author discusses medical schools’ increased reliance on community physicians to teach students and residents and suggests ways to enhance these relationships.

Insights include:

  • Failure for academic and community physicians to work together could have serious consequences for medical education.
  • Community physicians need access to high-quality, evidence-based training on teaching.
  • Mutual respect and feedback are critical to building successful relationships between “town” and “gown” physicians.

"The Accidental Academic: Bridging the Gap between Town and Gown"

Gundersen, E. (2017, October 10). The accidental academic: Bridging the gap between town and gown [Web log post]. Harvard Macy Institute. Retrieved January 26, 2018, from The Accidental Academic: Bridging the Gap between Town and Gown

December 2017: "Promoting Deep Learning"

December's article of the month focuses on deep learning and approaches to encourage it in coursework. Deep learning results in overall understanding of a concept, whereas surface learning focuses on rote memorization of information. Promoting deep learning means having students do something with the information, not just requiring them to remember it. 

Highlights of the article include:

  • Deep learning results in the ability to not only understand information but transfer that knowledge to new and different situations. 
  • Cooperative learning experiences play a key role in deep learning, as interaction is a key characteristic. 
  • Efforts for deep learning should focus on key knowledge and skills essential for students to advance to the next course or practice in their chosen discipline. 
  • Deep learning is fostered through mindful sequencing of activities designed to promote thoughtful processing of and interaction with the course material. 

"Promoting Deep Learning"

Millis, B.J. (n.d.) Promoting Deep Learning: IDEA Paper #47. Retrieved December 18, 2017, from Promoting Deep Learning  

November 2017: "Interprofessional Education - A Foundation for a New Approach to Health Care"

November's article of the month focuses on interprofessional education (IPE) and its role in the future of healthcare. The authors discuss reasons for engaging in IPE, various approaches to incorporating it into health care curriculum, and IPE's potential to transform health care delivery in the future.

Highlights include:

  • Longitudinal, patient-centered IPE experiences have the potential to increase students' knowledge and awareness of complex patient needs. 
  • IPE is rooted in the patient safety movement, an effort to improve multidisciplinary teamwork and communication.
  • IPE as a field is still evolving, with research to be done on core concepts and curriculum integration.
  • When done well, IPE has the power to develop health care teams better able to handle uncertainty and complexity. 
  • With movement toward value-based payment models in health care, the ability for providers to focus their problem solving in an integrated manner becomes increasingly important. 

"Interprofessional Education - A Foundation for a New Approach to Health Care"

Dow, A., and Thibault, G. (2017, August 31) Interprofessional education - A foundation for a new approach to health care. N Engl J Med, 377(9), 803-805

October 2017: "Active Learning Strategies in Face-to-Face Courses"

October's article of the month focuses on active learning in the face-to-face classroom. The author discusses approaches to active learning and the research that supports adoption of active learning methods.

Highlights include:

  • Metacognition, or awareness of one's own thought processes, is central to learning. 
  • Educators are responsible for designing learning experiences that will engage students.
  • Educators should continually reinforce the value of active learning approaches, clarifying their expectations and emphasizing that the approaches will be reflected in graded activities (tests, quizzes, assignments). 
  • Educators should practice "transparent teaching," in which their methods and motives for active learning approaches are shared with the learners. 
  • Educators should create a supportive classroom climate to foster active student participation. 

"Active Learning Strategies in Face-to-Face Courses"

Millis, B.J. (n.d.) Active learning strategies in face-to-face courses. IDEA Paper #53. Retrieved from Active Learning Strategies in Face-to-Face Courses

September 2017: No More Lectures?

September’s article of the month shares two medical educators’ perspectives on efforts to move away from traditional lecture-based courses. The authors discuss approaches to education and the need to prepare medical students for future practice.

Highlights include:

  • Content-heavy slides may be an efficient way to teach but are likely an ineffective way to learn.
  • Learning can be facilitated by the instructor but must be driven by the student.
  • Students aren’t learning when they are unengaged.
  • Questioning, particularly using “why” and “how” questions, facilitates the transfer of knowledge.
  • We should aim for a culture of continuous quality improvement in medical education, just as we do with clinical practice.

"Saying Goodbye to Lectures in Medical School - Paradigm Shift or Passing Fad?"

Schwartzstein, R.M., & Roberts, D.H. (2017, August 17). Saying goodbye to lectures in medical school – Paradigm shift or passing fad? N Engl J Med, 377: 605-607. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMp1706474

August 2017: Struggles with Teaching

August’s article of the month shares a medical educator’s experiences with trying to teach in a time-constrained environment. The author discusses struggling to engage residents in active learning in the face of competing demands.

Insights include:

  • Time constraints and clinical demands may divert attention away from formal teaching.
  • Tension exists between fostering active learning and providing information to aid in the passage of high-stakes exams.
  • Lack of objectives and related assessment may confuse the learning environment.
  • Faculty development can help address the need for continual education of clinical preceptors.

"Just Because I Am Teaching Doesn’t Mean They Are Learning: Improving Our Teaching for a New Generation of Learners"

Sklar, D.P. (2015). Just because I am teaching doesn’t mean they are learning: Improving our teaching for a new generation of learners. Academic Medicine, 92(8): 1061-1063. DOI: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000001808

Open AllClose All
  July 2017: "Flipping the Classroom"

July 2017’s article of the month discusses practical advice for incorporating active learning, or “flipping the classroom,” in medical education. The authors discuss their experiences with flipping the classroom and suggest ways to approach such a change in teaching methodology.

Recommendations include:

  • Don’t overload the preparatory materials with minutiae – focus on preparing learners for higher order thinking.
  • Give yourself time to plan effectively – making the switch to a flipped classroom takes preparation and careful consideration.
  • Incorporate variety – don’t be afraid to explore various methods for delivering preparatory content and engaging learners in classroom activities.
  • Embrace facilitation over delivery – prepare yourself for a new role in helping learners participate in the process.
  • Align your assessment strategy with your learning activities – remember to focus on higher ordering thinking skills when designing your assessments.

To access the full article, click on the following weblink: How we flipped the medical classroom

Sharma, N, Lau, C.S., Doherty, I., & Harbutt., D. (2015). How we flipped the medical classroom. Medical Teacher, 37: 327-330. DOI: 10.3109/0142159X.2014.923821

Ready to Get Started?

Contact The Office of Educational Improvement at for support and guidance in planning your own flipped classroom activities.

  June 2017: Using Feedback to Enhance Learning

June 2017’s article of the month discusses using feedback to enhance learningThe author asserts that feedback cannot be characterized by what is communicated; rather, it is defined in part by the effects the communication has on the learner. That is, educators can only confirm learning has occurred when the feedback loop is closed by subsequent communication from the learner.

This concept of feedback presents a challenge when educators lack the opportunity for successive contact with the learner. The author therefore suggests what they term “Feedback Mark 2,” wherein learners take a much more active role in the feedback process.

Feedback: Ensuring that it leads to enhanced learning

Boud, D. (2015). Feedback: Ensuring that it leads to enhanced learning. The Clinical Teacher, 12: 3-7. doi:10.1111/tct.12345

  July 2016: Ethical Considerations for Using Electronic Health Records (EHRs) as a Learning Tool in Medical Education

July 2016: This Article of the Month focuses on the ethical considerations for using Electronic Health Records (EHRs) as a learning tool in medical education. As technology continues to advance, tracking in an anytime, anywhere, anyplace environment raises ethical and legal concerns. The authors discuss several competing arguments related to student use of EHRs for tracking former patients.

Click on the following web link to access the full journal article:  

Should Medical Students Track Former Patients in the Electronic Health Record? An Emerging Ethical Conflict

Brisson, G.E., Johnson Neely, K., Tyler, P.D., Barnard, C. (2015). Should Medical Students Track Former Patients in the Electronic Health Record? An Emerging Ethical Conflict. Academic Medicine (90) (8): 1020-1024.

DOI: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000000633

  June 2016: "Unprofessional Behavior"

June 2016: “Unprofessional behavior” lacks a conclusive definition among U.S. medical school students and resident physicians. Moreover, methods for identifying and remediating these behaviors have not been well documented. Psychosocial factors, as well as ambiguity of certain professional behaviors, including evolving policies for context-specific considerations of unprofessionalism are addressed in this Article of the Month. Click on the following web link to access the full journal article:

Unprofessional Behaviors

Fargen, KM, Drolet, BC, Philibert, I. (June, 2016). Unprofessional Behaviors Among Tomorrow’s Physicians: Review of the Literature With a Focus on Risk Factors, Temporal Trends, and Future Directions. Academic Medicine (91, 6), (858-864).

  May 2016: Comparing Open-Book and Closed-Book Examinations

May 2016: This Article of the Month discusses the pros and cons of using open-book examinations (OBEs) and closed-book examinations (CBEs) for exam performance, information retention, and learning outcomes. The authors point out that today’s “…students…have access to an unprecedented amount of information thanks to the rapid expansion of knowledge and the emergence of information technology.” This raises the question of whether today’s learners would be better served by concentrating on information retrieval with data applications and information synthesis rather than merely through rote memorization.

Comparing Open-Book and Closed-Book Examinations: A Systematic Review

Durning SJ, Dong T, Ratcliffe T, Schuwirth L, Artino AR Jr, Boulet JR, Eva K., Academic Medicine, 2016, Apr; 91(4): 583-99.  doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000000977

  April 2016: Pimping in Medical Education: Lacking Evidence and Under Threat

April 2016: The article below addresses the lines between involving the learner on clinical rounds and the consequences of humiliation. The research and viability of this pedagogical method, and the future use of said method are also addressed.

​McCarthy CP, McEvoy JW. Pimping in Medical Education: Lacking Evidence and Under Threat.

Pimping in Medical Education

JAMA. 2015; 314(22):2347-2348. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.13570.

The article should be of interest when thinking about student self-efficacy and resilience in training. I hope some interesting conversations are evoked from the content.

Page Updated 07/26/2018