Faculty development can also be designed to increase faculty members’ basic understanding of the behavioral and social sciences, educate them on teaching techniques appropriate to those disciplines, and provide curriculum evaluation.
Successful curriculum change processes have followed a standard model that includes needs assessment, specification of learning objectives, selection of content and teaching methods, and evaluation of the change.
Needs assessment involves determining the appropriateness of current curriculum content, teaching methods, and timing of instruction. Many medical schools have completed needs assessments of their curricula and have found gaps and redundancies. Some of the gaps consist of issues related to the behavioral and social sciences (AAMC, 2000). As a result, as noted earlier, medical training programs across the United States have begun to incorporate the behavioral and social sciences into their curricula (AAMC, 2000; Benbassat et al., 2003; Brook et al., 2000; Tang et al., 2002). Additionally, numerous schools have moved to adopt a more integrated curriculum after careful assessment, evaluation, and discussion of their current content and teaching methods (AAMC, 2000; Maizes et al., 2002; Robins et al., 2000; Stalburg and Stein, 2002; Stine et al., 2000; University of Rochester, 2002). The reason for this shift is that scientific investigation and health care practice increasingly require the integration of multiple disciplines to adequately represent new ways of thinking about human health and disease as a result of the emergence of molecular and cellular medicine (Irby and Hekelman, 1997; Tosteson, 1994)—reflecting the fact, noted earlier, that the structure of the medical school curriculum is adjusted in accordance with national changes in medical research and health care.
Once an initial needs assessment has been completed, the focus shifts to reaching agreement on learning objectives, identifying content, selecting teaching methods, and creating appropriate forms of assessment. In the case of the behavioral and social sciences, this process requires faculty members who can serve as theme coordinators or champions for the incorporation of these disciplines across the curriculum. Because the process involves curriculum committee reviews and negotiation with existing course directors so they will allow time for behavioral and social science content in their courses, interpersonal negotiation skills are helpful.
In an effort to improve an unpopular Medical Humanities course at Ohio State University, for example, just such a person was asked to take the lead. This champion initiated multiple changes that included converting the course into a case-based lecture with a small-group format and modifying the schedule from an all-day class to a 90-minute session every week over 2 years. He also identified the knowledge domains to be taught and the best ways to integrate the material into the curriculum, found module directors to take responsibility for each do-