How Learning Transfers: A Study of How Graduates of a Faculty Education Fellowship Influenced the Behaviors and Practices of Their Peers and Organizations

Plack, Margaret M. PT, DPT, EdD; Goldman, Ellen F. EdD; Wesner, Marilyn EdD; Manikoth, Nisha EdD; Haywood, Yolanda MD

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000000440
Research Reports

Purpose: Faculty development programs have been criticized for their limited assessment methods, focused only on the learners and limited to satisfaction measures or self-reported behavior changes. Assessment of organizational impact is lacking. This study explored the impact of faculty education fellowship graduates on their organization and how that impact occurred.

Method: The design was a qualitative study of 13 departments across three institutions, partnered with the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences. In-depth interviews with 13 supervisors and 25 peers of graduates were conducted in fall 2012 to examine graduates’ organizational impact related to program purposes: enhancing teaching skills, pursuing scholarship in education, and developing leadership potential. Triangulation, purposive sampling, rich descriptions, and member checks minimized bias and optimized transferability.

Results: A model of how graduates of a faculty education fellowship transfer learning to peers and their organizations emerged. Analysis of interview responses showed that in the presence of environmental facilitators, graduates exhibited enhanced confidence and five new behaviors. Graduates raised peer awareness, leading to changes in individual and group practices and development of shared peer understanding. Analysis suggests they facilitated a culture of continuous learning around teaching, scholarship, and leadership.

Conclusions: This study enhances traditional assessment of faculty education fellowship programs by examining the impact that graduates had on peers and work groups. A model is proposed for how graduates interact with and impact work group processes and practices. This model can facilitate more comprehensive program assessments, which can demonstrate program impact beyond the individual participant.

Dr. Plack is professor, Department of Physical Therapy and Health Care Sciences, School of Medicine and Health Sciences, George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Washington, DC.

Dr. Goldman is associate professor of human and organizational learning, George Washington University Graduate School of Education and Human Development, and director, Master Teacher Leadership Development Program, George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Washington, DC.

Dr. Wesner is assistant professor of human and organizational learning, George Washington University Graduate School of Education and Human Development, and director, Masters’ Program in Human Resource Development, George Washington University Graduate School of Education and Human Development, Hampton Roads, Virginia.

Dr. Manikoth is research assistant, Department of Human and Organizational Learning, George Washington University Graduate School of Education and Human Development, Washington, DC.

Dr. Haywood is associate dean for student and curricular affairs and associate professor of emergency medicine, George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, and decanal liaison, Master Teacher Leadership Development Program, George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Washington, DC.

Funding/Support: This project was made possible in part by funds from the Office of the Dean of the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

Other disclosures: None reported.

Ethical approval: The George Washington University institutional review board approved this study.

Supplemental digital content for this article is available at http://links.lww.com/ACADMED/A230.

Correspondence should be addressed to Dr. Plack, School of Medicine and Health Sciences, George Washington University, 2000 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 217, Washington, DC 20006; telephone: (202) 994-7763; fax: (202) 994-8400; e-mail: mplack@gwu.edu.

© 2015 by the Association of American Medical Colleges