A recognizable challenge is also apparent in the area of faculty development. Because the facilitators of problem-based learning exercises are typically generalist faculty or specialists who are not themselves behavioral or social scientists, they require training in behavioral and social science content before they can effectively facilitate student learning in these small-group discussions. Individuals from three of the four schools surveyed—University of California, San Francisco; University of Rochester; and Ohio State University—acknowledged a need for more faculty development. The fourth school, University of North Carolina, has a 26-year history of well-supported curriculum innovation in the behavioral and social sciences and a faculty that possesses the needed expertise. That expertise is the product of many years of experience in providing faculty training, coteaching arrangements that pair generalists with behavioral and social science specialists, and regular updates in the behavioral and social sciences for faculty who participate in this curriculum. A particularly noteworthy finding from interviews of individuals from the three other schools was that formal faculty development in the behavioral and social sciences does not generally occur, often because of constraints on faculty time.
At these exemplar schools, the overall faculty response to new behavioral and social science content in the curriculum has generally been favorable. The strongest advocates of this content are the faculty participants in the courses that serve as vehicles for the new content. The interviews also revealed a somewhat less-favorable attitude toward such content by basic science faculty whose preclinical courses are often being downsized not because of the new behavioral and social science content per se, but because the objectives of overall curriculum reform often include providing students with more time for self-directed learning. The attitude toward new behavioral and social science content among students has generally been favorable. There are some examples of new courses that have become extraordinarily popular with students, partly because of the introduction of new behavioral and social science content and partly because of the use of innovative teaching methods.
Overall, the results of these surveys and interviews reveal both similarities and some distinctive differences in the behavioral and social science content in the four institutions’ curricula. The general dynamics and challenges of their curriculum and faculty development can be seen at all schools (and are dealt with more extensively in Chapter 4 of this report). The distinctive approaches taken to incorporate the behavioral and social sciences, on the other hand, are representative of the enduring missions and traditions of these schools, which establish the framework within which change is encouraged and accommodated.