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Creating Content for the MS in Genetic Counseling Program Application Using a Design Sprint Model

February 28, 2020 - Jenny Geurts, Director for the MS in Genetic Counseling, recently led a program development design sprint to complete the program’s application to the National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC). The application form is very detailed, requiring development of a significant amount of the program prior to submission. To aid the Genetic Counseling program team, Jenny contacted the Office of Educational Improvement (OEI) to help develop and facilitate a five-day program development retreat. 

The team, consisting of program leadership and OEI instructional designers, selected a design method promoted by Google teams, the Design Sprint. A sprint is designed to work through the creation process in five distinct steps, using a small team of subject matter experts to Map, Sketch, Decide, and Prototype the documentation needed. On the last day, stakeholders are asked to Test the model that has been created.  

By the end of the design sprint, the team completed:

  • A Mission statement for the Genetic Counseling program.
  • A Curriculum map which linked all accreditation standards to course objectives.
  • An Assessment map, which developed an assessment plan that reaches into authentic assessments beyond “just exams.”
  • Two syllabi (prototypes) summarized, complete with course descriptions, assessment methods, and a list of topics for the didactic portions.
  • A list of potential activities beyond the classroom which build a Community of Belonging.  These activities give purpose to the many roles that are filled by a Genetic Counselor and focus on the development of character and caring (volunteering, support groups, family pairing, multiple levels of conferences, and mentorship are a few examples).

Program leaders were initially skeptical of their ability to design the program in a five-day period.  However, by Day Five, their energy gained momentum and most goals were accomplished. Next steps include follow up meetings to build out the remaining course shells and finish developing the program application for submission to NSGC by the May 2020 deadline.

If you are planning to develop or revise a program, contact the Office of Educational Improvement for assistance. We are happy to support you in accomplishing your goals!

Genetics Counseling Design Sprint Schedule

 Monday 2/10/20  Tuesday 2/11/20  Wednesday 2/12/20  Thursday 2/13/20 Friday 2/14/20 

AM: 10:00-12:00
Present this schedule and ground rules


Set goals of the Sprint

Voice concerns – suggest strategies to address these


AM: 10:00am-12:00
Post the map and priorities

Pairs - Research other programs – capture the best ideas from those

Group - Does it fit? Review ideas from other schools and add to wall charts only if it fits.


AM: 10:00am-12:00
Post the accreditation chart

Review the chart – use large dot stickers to select three items that individual would like to prototype later today.

Use three small dot stickers to select “maybe next”

Share your passions – tell the group why you want to work on these items/ vision of your assessment/activities (generates more ideas)


AM: 10:00am-12:00
Trial runs:
Demo the learning plan that you built yesterday.

What if and what else?

Divide and conquer: Assign roles: Maker, Stitcher, Writer, Collector, – switch roles as we go through each learning plan


AM: 9:00am-12:00
Interviews (with the faciltiators) Team will watch from second room and take notes

Friendly welcome

Context questions

Introduce the prototype

Tasks and nudges – ask them to think aloud


 Lunch 12:00-1:00 p.m Lunch 12:00-1:00 p.m
 Lunch 12:00-1:00 p.m Lunch 12:00-1:00 p.m   Lunch 12:00-1:00 p.m

PM: 1-2:30

Break: 2:30-3:00

3:00-5:00 Curriculum map overview

DACUM wall – sort competencies into courses on wall papers

15 minutes of expert advice (each person gets 15 min)
How we might (HWM) notes – list as individuals and then organize as a group on wall

Vote by dots – prioritize the list

PM: 1-2:30

Break 2:30-3:00

3:00-5:00 Accreditation chart- Assessments:

Sticky notes onto wall charts – ideas of how we will know the students know this.

Learning activities:

Sticky notes onto wall charts – ideas of how we will present these concepts to class


PM: 1-2:30

Break 2:30-3:00

3:00-5:00 Prototype #1 – goal: to create one full learning plan:

 -does it need a rubric?

-does it need a checklist?

-does it need a video?

-does it need a case study?

-does it need a group activity?

-what else does it need?

(we will start the day tomorrow with these)

PM: 1-2:30

Break 2:30-3:00

3:00-5:00 Interview preparation:

Determine how your prototype(s) will be shared in tomorrow’s interviews

Write up the interview script. (what questions should the facilitator ask each person?


PM: 1-2:30

Break 2:30-3:00

3:00-5:00 Interviews (with the facilitators) Team will watch from second room and take notes

End of Interviews – as a team, decide how to follow up and proceed.


End of day:

Curriculum map

List of ideas/priorities

Take pictures of the wall documents.

End of day:

Accreditation chart – links all activities and assessments to the competencies

End of day:

Several lessons built out on paper

(facilitator will make copies to work on in AM)

End of day:

Prototypes are ready to be shared in interviews in AM.

Script of questions for facilitators

End of day:

Plan for next steps.

Celebrate your successes!

Exciting New Model for Interprofessional Education

August 21, 2019 - Beginning this Fall, first-year medical students will take part in a new and exciting model for interprofessional education (IPE). Capitalizing on the many institutions preparing future health professionals in Milwaukee, medical students will be assigned a “track” for core sessions in IPE in which they will participate in over the M1 and M2 year. Each track will consist of four required core sessions, one each semester for four semesters, focused on the Interprofessional Education Collaborative’s competencies of communication, values and ethics, teams and teamwork, and roles and responsibilities.
  • Students assigned to Core Track A will partner with students from Concordia University.
  • Students assigned to Core Track B will partner with students from Marquette University.
  • Students assigned to Core Track C will partner with students from Milwaukee School of Engineering, Columbia College of Nursing, and Gateway Technical College.

In this progressive cohort model, students will have the opportunity to learn together over time, truly exploring value in the unique perspective each profession brings from the beginning of their educational experience. A key goal of this curricular model is to provide a strategic and quality foundation to collaborative practice, thus preparing students from all around Milwaukee to come together to function effectively on clinical teams in their future practice.

Faculty members play a crucial role in this education and there are multiple opportunities to get involved this fall! We are seeking faculty to fill the role of team facilitator to an interprofessional team of students at three events this fall. Opportunities include:

  • September 10, 1-3pm: faculty facilitator for Core Track C in the Discovery Classroom at MCW
  • September 11, 3-5pm: faculty facilitator for Core Track A at Concordia University
  • November 13, 8:00-11:45am: faculty facilitator for Core Track B at Marquette University

If you are interested in more information or signing up to be a facilitator at any of these events, please contact Jordan Cannon, IPE Coordinator, at

Faculty will be well prepared for these experiences through distribution of a facilitator’s guide, as well as training prior to the event.

Thank you for your support of this exciting new educational opportunity for MCW students!