ePortfolios for GUMC Faculty Development

In an effort to support the medical center faculty, Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC) established the Center for Innovation & Leadership in Education (CENTILE), the umbrella organization under which GUMC faculty professional development efforts reside. One of those initiatives is an “Academy”, a growing movement in US medical schools defined as “formal organizations of academic teaching faculty recognized for excellence in their contributions to their school’s educational mission.” (Searle N, Thompson B, Friedland J, et al, 2010).

In January 2015, Dr. Howard Federoff, EVP at the GUMC established the GUMC Teaching Academy for the Health Sciences. As a community of practice, the Academy mission is accomplished through the following core purposes:

  • To nurture, recognize, and reward GUMC faculty who are exceptional teachers in health sciences education.
  • To engage our educators in ongoing professional development that promotes excellence in teaching, learning, and assessment.
  • To promote and support scholarly practice and educational science through advocacy, innovation, and collaboration.

A Community of Practice is a group of people who share a passion for something, and who want to learn how to do it better. Through regular interactions, community members engage in collective learning. Among their activities, they glean experience from the expertise of colleagues; discuss challenges and together seek answers to address them; and design innovative ways to use – or reuse – ideas and resources. The greatest strength of this learning model is its peer-to-peer faculty development approach. Faculty can enter at any level of expertise and participate, as time and interest allow.

However, Core Purpose #1 also indicates recognition and rewards for exceptional teachers. The challenge for faculty interested in pursuing membership in the Academy is creating and/or organizing the evidence that represents their contributions. ePortfolios can serve that purpose. The twist on my participation in this cohort was that I focused first on faculty, who collect, select, and weave together through a narrative their own evidence of contributions as an educator. My hope is that as a natural outgrowth of their personal experience in developing ePortfolios, it will seem an appropriate assessment strategy for students enrolled in competency-based curricula in the health sciences.

The goals for this CENTILE project are to create a template from which faculty can adapt to present their evidence of good teaching. The guiding questions included the following:

  • What membership levels can faculty enter into the Academy?
  • What categories can faculty show their excellence?
  • What criteria and standards would be required for each of those categories?
  • What evidence would be acceptable in each criterion?
  • What format could faculty use to present their evidence?

The initial Task Force (15 GUMC faculty) and the subsequent Working Group (18 faculty, some continued from the Task Force) worked to answer each of the questions. Through their investigation and collaborative process, they addressed each of the guiding questions:

  • What membership levels can faculty enter into the Academy?

    The GUMC model is one of inclusiveness. The Academy is here to support our community of practice by promoting & enabling professional growth; providing services to membership; communicating opportunities and engaging participation in those opportunities; and assessing and planning for the future. Therefore, the group determined that there would be three entries: Protégé (students, residents, fellows in training); Associate (faculty at any level interested in education but at the beginning of their careers); Principal Members (faculty highlighting excellence in one of five areas); and Distinguished Educators (faculty with excellence in three or more areas).

  • What categories can faculty show their excellence?
    • Direct Teaching (In-Person & Virtual)
    • Advising & Mentoring
    • Instructional Design & Curriculum Development (Traditional, Blended, & Online)
    • Educational Leadership & Administration
    • Educational Research/Dissemination
  • What criteria and standards would be required for each of those categories?
    • Personal Narrative
    • Quantity
    • Quality
    • Innovation
    • Engagement
  • What evidence would be acceptable in each criterion?
  • What format could faculty use to present their evidence?

    Evidence will be presented in a portfolio format. While some will collect hard copy evidence and submit in a static pdf format, we are hoping many more will submit as an ePortfolio. Template is in process, but can be seen at https://blogs.commons.georgetown.edu/paw33-workshop/ . Once in place, faculty can request a “copy” of the template from which to begin their ePortfolios.

    In many ways, GUMC is ahead of other Georgetown schools for technology use, but it is not always innovative or student-centric. I believe that as faculty become not only aware of the educational possibilities technology can provide, but intimately involved in their application, it can have a real impact on decisions for the classroom. While my intent is not necessarily a train-the-trainer model, in some ways that is how ePortfolio use can grow at GUMC. Once faculty see their value and are familiar with the process, they will expect nothing less from students.

The learners upon which I focused are the faculty themselves. My hope is as they collect evidence of their own teaching success, they will begin to contemplate their decisions in the classroom regarding what is working well and what is not as well as identify gaps in who they are as educators. Ultimately, their need for gathering evidence will be the jumping off point for their own classroom action research, which CENTILE will support.