Bridges Challenge

Your IDEAS building Bridges!

Developing Habits of Mind in Inquiry

Challenge Status: 


Since March, the Bridges Curriculum design teams have identified the importance of students developing the habits of mind in inquiry as key attributes of the 21st Century Physician. Habits of mind in inquiry include the knowledge, skills and attitudes that are used to approach problems when solutions are not readily apparent or don't exist. The Bridges physician should have the ability to tackle complex problems in the health sciences in order to improve health and our systems of care. 


It has been proposed that we teach inquiry across six domains of science critical to development of a UCSF physician, these are identified as:

  • Biomedical science
  • Clinical science
  • Population science & public health
  • Pedagogical science
  • Social and behavioral science
  • Systems science


Bridges Challenge: 

Given these recommendations how might we teach, support and assess inquiry as habits of mind in the core UCSF MD curriculum? 


Your recommendations might include teaching and learning strategies, frameworks for assessment, administrative structures for support, processes for how students could take a "deep dive" into one of the six domains of science. 



This is a great innitiative that will (hopefully) address a number of issues undergraduate medical education has been grappling for some time. Here are some things we might start with to get the conversation going.

These are three areas I am using to organize my thoughts around:

1) Students must constantly assess and reassess  their understanding of the problems in the areas listed in the Challenge. I think of it in terms of addressing the folloawing questions: a) What do I know/understand? b)What do I don't know/understand? c)What do I need to know/understand?

2) Students must continuously work on expanding of understanding and assessment of resources used to expand their understanding. a) Where do I go to get the information I need? b) How do I assess the validity/veracity/value of the source and the information c) What are the questions that are important but have not been answered?   

3) Students must communicate information to colleagues and patients. a) How do I communicate necessary information effectively and concisely to individuals? Groups?

Small group discussion is the setting that, in my opinion, would best address the learning process in these areas. Students would be presented with a problem, given some guidelines (for example, the question: What do I know?, What do I don't know?...) and asked to come up with one information source of their own choosing to present in class (brief presentation). With the help of the discussion leader(s) they would discuss each of the presentations (not more than 3/hour) for both content and communication.  The leaders would lead the discussion using Socratean method and students would be expected and encouraged to question eachother's assertions and conclusions as well as asertions and conclusions from the sources students used to present. To help leaders lead fruitful discussions the class should be based (at least mostly) on the problems with known answers, but selected so that they match the curricular content/block they are currently working on. This would also provide incentive for students to prepare and could be used to effectively cover some of the curricular content. 

As they progress through the Inquiry curriculum, the students' understanding of the inquiry process would mature sufficiently to have them start formulating their own questions they could address in the "Deep Dive" component of the Inquiry curriculum. Each student would prepare a small proposal that would address a current problem that we do not have answer to in one of the areas (from biomedical science through systems science) listed in the curriculum. Each proposal would be presented in the small group and it would be evaluated by the small group leader. This would also serve as the assessment of their competence in the Inquiry curriculum at this stage of learning.  



Also, assessments could (perhaps should) also be done in the form of an essay/short "open book" question. The question would cover the material not taught or otherwise covered and students would have access to internet in order to answer it. 

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