School Hosts Annual Teaching Excellence Day
Day-long event covers skills needed for effective presentations, teaching, and information sharing
By Becky Ceraul
August 7, 2012
Pharmacy residents, faculty, and preceptors had the opportunity to interact with more experienced instructors during the School of Pharmacy’s annual Teaching Excellence Day on July 26. Organized by senior faculty Mary Lynn McPherson, PharmD, a professor of pharmacy practice and science, the “students” were exposed to a full day of “how-tos” and “how not-tos” on creating and giving presentations, teaching one-on-one and in small groups, writing learning objectives and exam questions, and providing feedback to students.
The course, started more than 10 years ago, is designed to provide skills and a foundation for the attendees’ careers as teachers in the classroom, the lab, the clinic, and anywhere else they might practice.
“The most important attributes of an effective teacher are passion for your topic, the instructional design process, and a desire to optimize student learning,” says McPherson, a professor in the School’s Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science. “It’s also vital to be spot-on knowledgeable in your field. This top of the line knowledge base, when coupled with real life ‘been there, done that’ experience, cannot be beaten – especially when delivered with zest and enthusiasm.”
This year, 115 people attended Teaching Excellence Day, many of them recent pharmacy school graduates who are now working at sites throughout Baltimore as pharmacy residents and as preceptors for pharmacy students.
Ricky Amoateng, PharmD, a 2012 graduate of Hampton University’s School of Pharmacy, just started a residency at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore. He found the day to be extremely helpful as he prepares to precept pharmacy students. “I learned that without solid learning objectives, I won’t be effective as a teacher,” he said.
Lubna Kousa, PharmD, a recent graduate of the University of Findlay College of Pharmacy in Ohio, is working as a resident at Johns Hopkins Homecare, said that teaching wasn’t something she learned as a student.
Aditi Shah, PharmD, agrees. “It was particularly interesting to see the other side of the classroom through the teacher’s eyes and as a teacher now myself.” Shah is a 2012 graduate of the University of Charleston and is also working at Sinai as a resident.
“Ongoing preceptor development is extremely important to ensure that we provide our residents, fellows, and students with the best learning experiences possible,” says Kristin Watson, PharmD, an associate professor of pharmacy practice and science and coordinator of the Residency and Fellowship Program who planned the day’s preceptor track. “Our presenters provided preceptors with invaluable tips for organization, precepting trainees of varying levels at the same time, and how to provide feedback to trainees.”
School of Pharmacy faculty member Amanda Oglesby-Sherrouse, PhD, an assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences, joined the School in the spring and opted to attend Teaching Excellence to help prepare for her new career as an educator. “Training for most biomedical faculty is focused heavily on research and/or clinical science, so most of us learn to teach ‘on the job’,” she says. “Programs like Teaching Excellence Day provide a great opportunity for researchers and clinicians to learn more about different teaching techniques and learning styles. In particular, Thursday’s session on instructional design offered timely insight into how to design some of my upcoming lectures around learning objectives.”
“I am passionate about teaching – what makes for effective learning, how to enhance learning, and how to get a feel for whether or not students ‘get it,’” adds McPherson. “Just being an expert in your field doesn’t mean you are necessarily an effective teacher. I want the residents, our faculty, and preceptors to catch the passion as well, and understand that how you design educational experiences is as, or more important, than what you teach.”