Collective Flow of Ideas: Collaborative problem solving in support of a Spanish for Healthcare Professionals program.

Concurrent Session 10

Brief Abstract

Through a collaborative design-based research process, learners, teachers, instructional designers, and content experts have contributed to the development of a Virtual Patient Based Learning Model that blends online language learning, cultural competency, and community engagement in support of a medical Spanish language program for healthcare professionals.

Presenters

Marine biologist turned Instructional Designer, I thrive on the challenges, creativity, and the never-ending flow of new ideas that my profession seems to wash onto my shores. On the side, I have written books on web design and have taught at Portland State University. Currently, I am involved in my Master's Thesis project focused on the design and implementation of a voice-enabled virtual patient system for the Spanish for Healthcare Professionals program at Pacific University.

Extended Abstract

In many communities, people of Spanish speaking origin with limited English proficiency represent a growing demographic which presents language and cultural barriers that impact their access to quality healthcare and patient safety. The promotion of direct bilingual interaction and cultural competency between healthcare providers and their patients is the best-desired outcome to reduce these healthcare inequities. The goal of this project is to provide innovative Spanish language instruction to healthcare professionals through the development of meaningful solutions to second language learning challenges.

On its own, second language instruction presents many challenges to teaching and learning. These problems are magnified in complex healthcare educational environments where students, a) have varying levels of Spanish knowledge, b) come from mixed graduate and undergraduate programs spanning eight clinical and administrative healthcare disciplines, c) have little time with demanding curriculums and clinical rotations in addition to family and job responsibilities, d) face strong motivation and anxiety challenges that inhibit second language learning, and e) find difficulty connecting course topic relevance with the work they do in their practices.

Through a collaborative design-based research process, learners, teachers, instructional designers, and content experts contributed to the development of a Virtual Patient Based Learning Model to improve second language learning for medical professional students through the benefits of low stakes/low anxiety practice environments, modeled communication, individualized learning experiences, creative grammar, and opportunities for community engagement. In this process, healthcare students explore core communication concepts, practice with voice-enabled Spanish-speaking virtual patients, and then connect practiced communication skills in a clinical or community healthcare setting.

Further work continues with a focus on building interdisciplinary cross-curriculum connections, incorporating community organizations into classroom activities, study abroad opportunities, and the exploration of new learning practices that support communities of inquiry and authentic learning experiences.