Course Design: Pedagogical Approaches to Assessing Higher Order Cognitive Skills

Concurrent Session 2

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Courses that teach new pedagogical methods, to include communication, teamwork, leadership, critical thinking, and self-assessment, are required for the 21st century workplace.

Extended Abstract

Lecture continues to be the primary teaching format in Higher Education, rendering students passive recipients of information. This format doesn't address skills needed for the 21st century workplace transformation through technology integration, collaboration and globalization, focusing more on workers who can adapt and learn new skills, including cognitive (hard) skills and communication (soft) skills. The Commission on Dental Accreditation addressed this challenge by releasing new standards for teaching/ learning in dental education. Tufts University School of Dental Medicine (TUSDM) created a pilot course to support the assessment of higher order cognitive skills. It specifically teaches and assesses skills in communication, teamwork, leadership, critical thinking, self-assessment and clinical and behavioral sciences and uses two pedagogical approaches: Constructivism and Student-driven Pedagogy of Integrated, Reinforced and Active Learning (SPIRAL).

Constructivism is student-centered, where students become engaged in the learning process, build on prior knowledge and learn how to construct new knowledge and problem solving strategies. Students and faculty participate in the feedback process to provide opportunities to improve and enhance performance and to learn from peers. This pedagogy supports assessment of teamwork, leadership and basic sciences through active learning/team-based activities.

The other pedagogy is the SPIRAL which incorporates the constructivist model of learning. TUSDM integrates students across all four years, engaging in team-based and case-based learning that focus on assessing critical thinking, communication and self-assessment. Deeper learning can be achieved through a spiral process where ideas are repeatedly revisited and built upon in more sophisticated ways until a full understanding is developed.
This pedagogical framework is critical in assessing the new competencies and specific strategies will be discussed. The initial results are positive and TUSDM will share these, discussing best practices and areas for improvement during the session.

1. The activity will focus on the concept of teamwork and aims to demonstrate the advantage of working as a team, composed of members with different levels of knowledge and expertise, than alone.
Participants will work in groups where each member will be the expert in certain tasks they choose (example, knot tying, card game), where they will learn the skill themselves first and then have to teach the rest of the group the skill.
2. Participants will work in groups to compose a learning activity/assessment that addresses one of the higher order cognitive skills they can apply at their institution.

Learning Objectives:
At the end of the session, participants will be able to:
ï Demonstrate the concept of teamwork by working together to teach and learn a new skill.
ï Compose a learning assessment and apply it to higher order cognitive skills.
ï Define two pedagogical approaches that support higher order cognitive skills and list a few teaching/assessment strategies.