Instructor FAQ

What is CBL?

Case Based Learning (CBL) is a form of small-group learning where a case is used to stimulate and guide student learning. Specifically in medical education, cases are written as real-life clinical problems that provide students with context in order to promote the relevance of what they are learning and, where appropriate, to assist them in integrating basic science content with clinical presentations. Through CBL, students consolidate their learning by applying prior and newly acquired knowledge, actively collaborating with their group members, using problem solving and critical thinking skills, and identifying their own learning needs as they attempt to understand the case(s).

How is CBL different from PBL?

  1. In CBL, students are given resources (i.e. lectures, curated online resources such as videos or websites, and learning objectives) associated with the case ahead of time to familiarize them with the terminology and content relevant to the case.
  2. In CBL, tutors have a key role in ensuring that students stay on track by utilizing the learning objectives to focus student learning to the specific outcomes.
  3. In CBL, students will address the learning issues raised by the case by the end of the CBL session. They may be directed to seek some additional resources during and/or after the case.
  4. In CBL, tutors have more control or guidance and thus play a more directive role to ensure that students integrate basic science knowledge with their understanding of the clinical case and generally achieve the specified objectives.

Will it be the same CBL tutor throughout the year?

We are hoping that tutors will choose to commit to teach an entire course (or in the case of Concepts Patients Communities 2A, half a course) in order to provide students with longitudinal teaching and assessment. We encourage tutors to think of ‘team teaching’ with (a) colleague(s) for this period in order to share their preparation and sessions.

Will students be in the same group throughout the year? 

In first year, students will remain in the same case-based learning group for the first 11 weeks and will switch at the start of the second course. They will be in another year-long group for their Clinical Skills, Community, Population and Public Health, and Portfolio components.

In second year, students will be in the same case-based learning group for the first 16 weeks, and will switch at the start of Life Cycle.

What if there are issues with group dynamics in the CBL groups?

Tutors (and students) will be provided with education and suggestions in dealing with group dynamics. In addition there are specific resource people available within the MD Program leadership and the Centre for Faculty Development, who have more extensive experience with small-group teaching, to whom tutors can be referred for additional input and support.

What is the preparation for teaching CBL? How does the tutor develop the expertise required to address the basic science that may be raised during the session? 

Please see the faculty development website for materials on how to prepare for teaching CBL.

What is programmatic assessment?

See Programmatic Assessment Webpage.

Can you tell us more about assessment and what the tutor’s responsibilities will be? 

The new programmatic assessment model is designed to ensure students are proficient across diverse professional competencies, including each of the CanMEDS roles. The new assessment model will involve frequent lower-stakes assessments with feedback and individualized coaching designed to support learning. For information regarding specific assessment responsibilities related to teaching roles, please see job descriptions.

Will we receive Faculty Development?

There are substantial faculty development program for teachers in the Foundations Curriculum. This is overseen by our Director of Faculty Development. A variety of learning opportunities will be provided, both face-to-face and at-a-distance, see the faculty development website for a full list of available resources.

Faculty will also be provided with continuing education credits for participation and documentation for their teaching dossiers.

Does having less time for lectures mean that students are learning less content?

Not at all.  The Foundations Curriculum takes an integrated approach to learning that promotes learning in various contexts. In addition to content being delivered in several hours of lectures, content is delivered throughout the entire week’s learning activities, across various learning modalities. This may include small, expert-led group seminars, case-based learning, small-group discussion and clinical skills sessions. Students are introduced to content through online materials and other resources, both in advance and throughout the week to allow greater depth of content exploration in class.  It’s important to remember that the time spent learning will be not be reduced.

We are changing our model of instruction to promote discovery learning. This approach maximizes learning time, and minimizes instruction time by focusing on inquiry-based instruction which encourages students to learn through problem-solving. Evidence has shown the success of discovery learning, when followed by direct instruction in a variety of settings. Find out more about the evidence behind discovery learning, and application to the classroom in the following video:

I taught the previous curriculum, where does my content fit into the Foundations Curriculum?

The following diagram demonstrates where content taught in the previous preclerkship curriculum will be taught in the new Foundations Curriculum using our new approach.

Current curriculum to Foundations

Can I teach content that I’m not an expert on? For example, if I’m not a nephrologist, how can I teach students about nephrology?

The goal is for the tutor to model and to assist students in problem solving how the foundational science (provided by additional TOPIC educational activities and resources) links to the clinical presentations in the case.

We are asking tutors to teach at a generalist rather than expert level, and similar to PBL, to acknowledge areas of doubt and to encourage students to seek out additional information and resources as needed.

In addition to faculty development materials, content experts will be on call to answer tutor questions related to the cases and supporting materials.

How will the new curriculum be evaluated?

In collaboration with The Wilson Centre for Research in Medical Education, the full curriculum will be carefully evaluated by appraising the process and outcomes of the program. The process will be evaluated by our existing course evaluation processes (which have extensive student representation), together with additional surveys, interviews, and focus groups, with students and teachers related to the perceived quality of all elements of the program. This will include online materials, small- and large-group teaching sessions, placements at community sites, and achieving our curricular objectives. Outcome measures will include results of objective assessments (examinations, clinical skills assessments including OSCEs, assessments of integration and application of basic science knowledge to clinical scenarios, and written submissions). Information will also be collected from a preparedness-for-clerkship survey administered to students and to clerkship supervisors to establish baseline data for future comparison, in addition to relevant data from the Canadian graduation surveys.

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