An Update from Medical Education: October 2019

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Faculty Instructional Development (FID)

New Online Courses

Karen Spear Ellinwood, PhD, JD, EdS, director of Faculty instructional development, has launched a number of online courses for educator development aimed at supporting attendings, residents, fellows and community-based physicians who teach our medical students. 

Announcements about tips for teaching in classroom settings, including how to design flipped learning experiences, use active learning strategies and technology is distributed via a faculty development newsletter. Faculty can subscribe to the newsletter by clicking here.

Dr. Spear Ellinwood has created online courses distributed through PlayPosit, a free web-based software offered through the Office of Digital learning at the UA, for Residents as Educators (RAE), community-based preceptors and core faculty (view/download registration guide). The course serves as an introduction to principles of teaching, assessment and feedback and offers specific strategies for addressing challenges in these areas. An online course for classroom educators is coming soon! 

In addition, Dr. Spear Ellinwood has embedded her PlayPosit course for clinician educators in a new D2L learning space for community-based preceptors. She is collaborating with David Dawley, MPH, Program Coordinator Senior, and Carlos Gonzales, MD, FAAFP, who both serve as co-instructors in the D2L course. Mr. Dawley recruits and welcomes new community-based preceptors and helps to orient them to their role as educators in clerkship activities. Dr. Gonzales recruits as well as offers direct guidance to preceptors for teaching medical students. With Mr. Dawley’sparticipation in the D2L course, community-based preceptors will be able to access current information about their role and responsibilities as teachers in their respective clerkships, as well as access the general clerkship manual and sign and submit routine forms. The D2L course also enables Dr. Spear Ellinwood and Mr. Dawleyto conduct live sessions with preceptors throughout the state using the Zoom conference feature. Preceptors may also use the “Zoom Student” feature to connect with one another.

In addition to Zoom and UAHS Library resources, the D2L course also embeds the PlayPosit video course for preceptors in the course. 

To enroll in the D2L course for clinician educators, please email Karen or David Dawley, MPH.

A Unique Approach to Faculty Coaching

Dr. Spear Ellinwood takes a unique approach to teaching teachers, inspired by the theory called “Funds of Knowledge for Teachers” (Gonzalez, Moll & Amanti, 2005). This theory calls upon the instructor to explore who their learners are, where they live and how their social, academic and family funds of knowledge may contribute to making teaching more effective and the learning experience more productive. In short, this means that effective teachers make connections between the environment in which their learners live and the concept to be learned. In the case of clinician educators, Dr. Spear Ellinwood observes faculty in their “home” settings – in clinic, the OR and at the bedside while they teach students. She learns a great deal about the challenges of teaching in a variety of clinical settings, observes excellent teaching and collaborates with instructors to enhance their approach to teaching and feedback. 

Peer Review of Teaching

Recently, the UA has required that all faculty seeking promotion and/or tenure be evaluated according to the protocol established by the Office of Instruction and Assessment (OIA) on main campus. The OIA Protocol represents best practice in peer review of teaching and fosters communication between the reviewer and reviewee before, during and after observations. The goal is to create a positive climate in which faculty feel comfortable being observed and evaluated and have an opportunity to both receive feedback and offer input on the process. Since Dr. Spear Ellinwood had been using the “Funds of Knowledge” approach to faculty coaching and conducted peer reviews of teaching closely aligned with this protocol, the Office of Faculty Affairs has asked her to train faculty in other departments to do OIA protocol peer evaluations, as well as to conduct them for departments as needed and until faculty complete training. 

If your department would like to schedule a training session for your faculty, please contact Karen at

Support & Training for Ed Tech in the Classroom

In addition to on-site faculty coaching, Dr. Spear Ellinwood provides support for designing active learning experiences for classroom learning, how to use technology and embed its use in the teaching/learning process. For example, in consultation with Dr. Nafees Ahmad last year, Dr. Spear Ellinwood transformed learning materials previously distributed to students in PDF into a lab manual and case-based learning materials for microbiology in the Infection and Immunology Block of the pre-clerkship curriculum. She helps faculty to make lecture and discussion sessions more engaging with the use of PollEverywhere, and wrote the script for and co-directed a movie short for use in the interprofessional curriculum on disabilities.

Teaching is a great honor. We should challenge ourselves to push beyond the ordinary way of teaching and learn new ways of engaging our learners, making the classroom experience more interesting, and sharing what we learn along the way with our colleagues.

If you would like to learn new ways of teaching or how to integrate technology in your teaching, please contact Karen at

The FID Newsletter

If you would like regular updates on opportunities for faculty instructional development, please click here to view the landing page and subscribe to the newsletter.

Pathways in Health and Medicine

The Pathways in Health and Medicine curriculum led two sessions in late September in the MSS block for the Class of 2023.

In the “Care of the Athlete” session students heard about the unique health needs of athletes from former UA Women’s Track star Georgann Moline. At the 2021 U.S. Olympics, Georganne finished fifth in the Olympic 400 meter hurdles; she is now preparing for the 2020 Olympic trials. Together, with Assistant Head Team Physician for UA Athletics, Bruce Helming, MD, they gave an insider's view on the experience of health care from the perspective of an elite athlete and some of the current day controversies in the field of sports medicine.

Colleen Cagno, MD, then moderated a panel on “Limb Loss and Amputation.”  Panelists included Alexis Johnson, Class of 2023; Tim Cook, PT, DPT, Amputation Rehabilitation Coordinator at the Southern Arizona VA Health Care System (SAVAHCS) who was joined by two of his patients, Alvert Kemp, and, US Army SFC Green Beret, Caleb Brewer; and finally, Kent Sluder, a certified Prosthetist/Orthotist with Pongratz Orthotics & Prosthetics, Inc. The patient panelists shared their experiences with limb loss and the providers explaind the models of care and early stages of rehabilitation. Samples prosthetics were passed around the room in order for students to gain an appreciation of the different types of adaptive equipment and modifications in gait.