Learning Environments Across Disciplines (LEADS)
All students need to learn to monitor and manage their emotions in academic settings. However, medical students must manage both their own emotions as well as their patients’ emotions when communicating bad news. This project is working to extend our pilot research where we created a technology rich learning environment (TRE) that connected an international community of medical students and human tutors from Canada and Hong Kong who interacted simultaneously using Adobe Connect.
Our learning environment is a hybrid approach to instruction that combines cognitive and affective models of instruction with a “communities of practice” approach supported by a problem-based learning framework. Video cases served as triggers for PBL dialogue about appropriate communication strategies using the medical interview protocol known as SPIKES. A cross-cultural group of medical students learned about the emotion-laden task of delivering bad news.
Because this is an emotionally and culturally-laden phenomenon, we had all students view video from the two national contexts (with a facilitator from each of the countries facilitating the appropriate video). In addition, the technology allowed an expert facilitator to support the physician’s who were facilitating the group. PBL helps individuals develop skills of critical analysis, problem solving, and confidence when guided with appropriate feedback by facilitators who help guide the learning process around patient cases. The international context provides a way to facilitate multiple perspective-taking about how to communicate bad news to patients from different cultural backgrounds.
We are currently redeveloping the TRE for to build on the findings from the pilot, leveraging recent developments in Learning Analytics Visualizations to scale-up the module to accommodate a large number of students. We will continue to pursue several avenues, i.e., problem based learning, emotional regulation, and computer- supported collaborative learning. More broadly we are examining the intersection between emotional regulation, decision-making and communication in culturally diverse groups in scaled-up medical contexts.
In terms of methodology we will refine our mixed methods approach to examine changes in student communication with patients as a function of the problem based learning environment. Discourse analyses and video ethnographic tools will be used to code the verbal and behavioral data on a number of topics: emotional regulation of medical students and patients, communication pattern changes pertaining to knowledge and empathy, tutoring styles of PBL tutors and resulting changes in student discourse pertaining to the PBL learning objectives and SPIKES model.