Skip Navigation LinksHome > February 2014 - Volume 89 - Issue 2 > Medical School Pedagogy Should Be Culture-Dependent
Academic Medicine:
doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000000118
Letters to the Editor

Medical School Pedagogy Should Be Culture-Dependent

Sharma, Neel MD; Lau, Chak-Sing MBChB, MD (Hons), FRCP (Edin, Glasg, Lond), FHKCP, FHKAM (Medicine); Doherty, Iain MLitt, PhD; Harbutt, Darren MA

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Author Information

Honorary tutor, Institute of Medical and Health Sciences Education, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong; n.sharma@qmul.ac.uk.

Daniel C.K. Yu Professor in Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology, and chair of rheumatology and clinical immunology, Department of Medicine, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong.

Associate professor and director, eLearning Pedagogical Support Unit, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong.

Instructional designer, eLearning Pedagogical Support Unit, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong.

Disclosures: None reported.

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To the Editor:

Across the globe, medical schools employ various strategies to improve the delivery of the curriculum. Common strategies today include problem- and team-based learning in addition to the use of Web-based applications and services to engage students with content, with teachers, and with one another. Evidence demonstrates that a range of strategies can be effective particularly when pedagogy drives the use of various technologies. It can often be difficult to choose an optimum form of delivery, and we believe that faculty should consider the cultural background of students when implementing new teaching methods.

Recently, we used the flipped classroom approach in the delivery of rheumatology teaching at the Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, University of Hong Kong.1 Overall, students commented that this format provided for active engagement, discussion, consolidation of knowledge, immediate feedback, application of theory to real-life patient problems, and the ability to watch and revisit the video material as necessary.

Some students noted, however, that this form of interactive session may not be best suited to Chinese students, who may not engage in the type of participation expected in a flipped-classroom setting because of their cultural background. Teachers may see silence on the part of students from a Chinese background as evidence of failure to participate. However, East Asian students argue that remaining silent but listening attentively is another way to actively engage in a class.2 It would, therefore, be a mistake to assume that some students’ failure to vocalize is synonymous with lack of participation.

We feel that although teachers can equip themselves with various pedagogies and with diverse teaching and learning tools, faculty must take into consideration the demographic background of their students to fully enhance content delivery and maximize subsequent knowledge potential. The case for this sensitivity is becoming more pressing as the number of students from a Chinese background increases in universities the world over.

Neel Sharma, MD

Honorary tutor, Institute of Medical and Health

Sciences Education, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine,

University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong; n.sharma@qmul.ac.uk.

Chak-Sing Lau, MBChB, MD (Hons), FRCP

(Edin, Glasg, Lond), FHKCP, FHKAM (Medicine)

Daniel C.K. Yu Professor in Rheumatology and

Clinical Immunology, and chair of rheumatology

and clinical immunology, Department of Medicine,

University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong.

Iain Doherty, MLitt, PhD

Associate professor and director, eLearning Pedagogical

Support Unit, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong.

Darren Harbutt, MA

Instructional designer, eLearning Pedagogical

Support Unit, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong.

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References

1. Sharma N. The flipped classroom at the Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine. University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Presented at: CITE Research Symposium 2013, May 10, 2013 http://www.slideshare.net/citehku/622-flipped-c-citers?ref=http://citers2013.cite.hku.hk/en/paper_622.htm. Accessed November 5, 2013

2. Kim S. Silent participation: East Asian international graduate students’ views on active classroom participation. J Excell Coll Teach. 2008;19:199–220

© 2014 by the Association of American Medical Colleges

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