CIRCLE collaborates with scholars at the Washington University School of Medicine to translate insights from its undergraduate STEM education research into medical education. Collaborators include faculty in the Division of Medical Education, as well as residents participating in the Teaching Physician Pathway (WUTPP) who are interested in becoming clinician-educators. CIRCLE’s involvement ranges from one-time consultations to long-term participation in research projects, and its contributions include research and evaluation design, IRB protocol development, statistical analysis, and reporting.

Medical Mindset Study

One Medical School collaboration, which is overseen by WUTPP Director Dr. Patricia Kao, involves a random-assignment experiment implementing CIRCLE’s growth mindset intervention among Internal Medicine residents. Psychological research has shown that having a growth-mindset, or a belief that personal characteristics like intelligence can be developed through effort and strategic practice, can improve learners’ performance and well-being. Moreover, research has shown that growth-mindsets can be experimentally induced. The goal of the Medical Mindset Study is to examine the relationship between residents’ mindsets and their experience of emotional and psychological burnout, and to test whether a growth-mindset intervention can help protect them from burnout as they advance in residency training.

Active Learning in Resident Education

Another project investigates the use of active-learning pedagogies in Internal Medicine resident education. The residents participate in a variety of educational sessions over the course of their three-year residency training, including twice-per-week “noon conferences.” Noon conferences are lunchtime lectures led by School of Medicine faculty, which are intended to cover the general topics that residents will encounter on their Board certification exams. The noon conference instructors are expected to incorporate audience participation via clicker questions, but little is known about how instructors are actually implementing the technique and whether it successfully engages residents. CIRCLE is therefore supporting Dr. Kao and colleagues in using its Observation Protocol for Active Learning to objectively characterize noon conference teaching and learning.

Situational Awareness Assessment

Finally, CIRCLE is consulting on a project to improve the formative feedback that residents receive on their situational awareness during critical care scenarios. Situational awareness refers to the ability to perceive information in the environment, comprehend its meaning and significance, and predict events that may develop from the current situation. Healthcare research indicates physicians’ situational awareness impacts patient outcomes; however, current assessments of situational awareness are not geared towards providing trainees with feedback on their skills. Dr. Eva Aagaard, Senior Associate Dean for Education at the School of Medicine, has developed a Situational Awareness Assessment Tool for this purpose, and CIRCLE is lending its IRB and statistical expertise to the validation of this new instrument.