Pharmacology is an intensive course in that we cover a large amount of material within 8 weeks. We do block scheduling meaning that the students do 4 weeks of didactic, 4 weeks of clinical and then repeat it, so that 16 weeks of material is covered in 8 weeks. We have a large variety of students, from neonatal to geriatric and have to be generic enough with the content to be relevant to everyone. Some schools teach pharmacology from a pharmacotherapeutics angle meaning that they teach prescribing issues whereas we teach it from a more pharmacology perspective, so really focusing on mechanisms of action. One issue has been misconceptions about the goal of the course.
In the past, the class consisted of 2 exams, a midterm and final and they were open book with some case studies in class. The grades were terrible and students did not review the online material that was available, we could access the stats from ECHO 360. This past year, we did a mix of in class lectures with case studies and also Adobe Connect sessions. We awarded participation points for attending class using in class quizzes that covered the reading. We also added 4 online quizzes and kept the two exams, that were proctored in class and were close book. The grades drastically improved and they seemed to have a better grasp of the content. I would consider this a current strength.
This year, the class is being offered totally online. So in terms of assessments, I think we are going to keep the format of the quizzes and exams. In terms of growth/improvement, I have developed a study guide that outlines the specific learning objectives per module, we are identifying a prototype drug for each class and a sample test question is included for each drug class. For the lectures, I like the idea of using Zaption with embedded questions and have heard that it integrates with Canvas. For case studies, I think using something like VoiceThread might make sense for each specialty. Presenting a case on heart failure and having them work in groups to explain how they might approach the case from their particular perspective would make the material more relevant. Since the objectives for each module are more clearly stated, we are going to develop a standard for the presentations. Maybe starting with a case study, working through the material and then wrapping up the case study. Also, trying to develop higher order questions to ensure mastery of the material.