Understanding Modern Learners, Technology, and Medical Education

Understanding Modern Learners, Technology, and Medical Education

Robin Bartoletti (Indiana Tech, USA) and Kim Meyer (The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-5092-2.ch001
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Abstract

Clinicians and researchers are expected to educate the next generation of clinicians with little or no formal education on effective, modern instructional design. Clinicians and researchers are left to teach in the same way they were taught many years or decades ago. Medical education must adapt to meet the demands of the Generation Y student population that would benefit from the innovative use of instructional technology. This generation thrives in small groups, using social media, and has never known a world without Google. The purpose of this chapter is to demonstrate innovative curricular design strategies using technology to leverage the skills and preferences that Generation Y brings to a medical classroom.
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The Modern Learner Defined

Clinicians and researchers are expected to educate the next generation of clinicians with little or no formal education on effective, modern instructional design. Clinicians and researchers are left to teach in the same way they were taught many years or decades ago (Sunal et al., 2001). Medical education must adapt to meet the demands of the Generation Y student population that would benefit from an innovative curriculum using the best instructional technologies. This generation thrives in small groups, communicates using social media, and has never known a world without Google (Evans, Ozdalga, & Ahuja, 2016).

As more generations enter the workforce, a rapid change in culture and technology makes experiences of generations more divergent. Medicine demands effective interactions between members of different generations as an emphasis on teamwork, team-based care, and interprofessionalism increases. There is also a rising need for more doctors in the workforce, making retention and job satisfaction especially relevant considering that burn-out rates are climbing. Are there generational factors that are common among medical students that would allow teachers to understand and know them better? The literature brings various arguments to that effect and proves consensus in several areas in education, particularly about the fact that the values and characteristics of all students are not the same. To improve the effectiveness of teachers and professionals involved in the various stages of medical training, knowing the learners is the essential first step.

Generations are defined as the average period, generally considered to be about twenty to thirty years, in which children grow up, become adults, and have children of their own. A generation is a group of people whose characteristics are shaped and defined by the societal events that occurred during their formative years. Discussion of generational differences may be somewhat stereotypical. Individuals have characteristics of their generational group to varying degrees, but generational differences are not used for evaluation purposes. Most studies of generational characteristics are based on survey research, interviews, and sociological observations of behaviors of the general public. Generational differences measured in surveys could be based on generational experiences, age/stage of life, or accumulated life experience. Not every member of a generation will share everything in common with other members of that generation. Since generations span several years, their members still have varied experiences, and those on the “cusp” of previous or next generations may not fit stereotypes as well. For this chapter, we will examine Millennials, or Generation Y, who make up the most significant percentage of students in medical and health-related education. We will use the generational discussion of Millennials as a loose category to help improve teaching methods. The following tables give an overview of the current living generations and what makes them unique.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Interprofessionalism: A healthcare process by which professionals from different disciplines collaborate to provide an integrated and cohesive approach to patient care.

Millennial (or Generation Y): Those born 1982-2002.

SOAP Note: A clinical patient encounter note divided in four primary sections: subjective, objective, assessment, and plan.

Virtual Reality: A technology-based simulated experience that can be similar to or completely different from the real world.

Pedagogy: The method and practice of teaching, especially as an academic subject or theoretical concept.

Gamification: The application of typical elements of game playing (e.g., point scoring, competition with others, rules of play) to other areas of activity, in this case, learning.

Virtual Tutee System (VTS): Computer characters that humans (the actual learners) teach in a virtual environment.

Generational Differences: Based on generational experiences, age/stage of life, or accumulated life experience.

Learning Theories: Describe how students absorb, process, retain, and recall knowledge during learning.

Mindmapping: A visual thinking tool that helps structure and organize information in a way that assists with: analysis, comprehension, synthesis, recall and generation of new ideas.

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