Assessing the Impact of Cross-Disciplinary, Project-Focused, Action-Based Immersive Learning Experiences in Healthcare and Engineering

Assessing the Impact of Cross-Disciplinary, Project-Focused, Action-Based Immersive Learning Experiences in Healthcare and Engineering

Academic Year:
2014 - 2015 (June 1, 2014 through May 31, 2015)
Funding Requested:
$4,000.00
Project Dates:
-
Applicant(s):
Chair Uniqname:
Overview of the Project:
Some of the greatest challenges that we face today as a society are found in our healthcare system. Affordable healthcare is vital to the well-being of Americans but the current healthcare delivery system is not sustainable. As healthcare costs are spiraling out of control, the United States lags behind other industrialized nations in a variety of quality measures. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) envisions a healthcare system that is Safe, Effective, Patient-centered, Timely, Efficient, and Equitable. Reform of the current system is necessary in order to achieve these goals. As medical practice has become more specialized, few healthcare professionals have the perspective or training to take a systems-based approach to improving healthcare delivery. Conversely, engineers who do have a systems-based analytical skill set rarely have the exposure to and knowledge of medical settings that are necessary to design clinically-feasible health care reforms. Cross-disciplinary collaboration is clearly essential for leveraging the potential benefits of systems-engineering tools to improve healthcare delivery. We pose three specific research questions to explore in our CRLT-ISL project: 1) How do students from engineering and healthcare differ in their views of and reactions to open-ended problem solving? 2) What challenges do engineering and healthcare students face in multi-disciplinary team-based problem solving when immersed in a healthcare setting? 3) Can engineering and healthcare students develop "bilingualism" in language and culture through a year-long, cross-disciplinary collaboration?
Proposal PDF:
Final Report Fields
Project Objectives:

To address the following questions: 1) How do students from engineering and healthcare fields differ in their views and reactions to open-ended problem solving? 2) What challenges do engineering and healthcare students face in multi-disciplinary team-based problem solving when immersed in a healthcare setting? 3) Can engineering and healthcare students develop "bilingualism" in language and culture through a year-long, cross-disciplinary collaboration?

Project Achievements:

We were able to build roughly 10 successful teams of students spanning multiple programs (we added in a second component: not just cross-program, but cross-"generation", combining undergrad/masters/PhD). Virtually all students reported positive outcomes on their learning and their interest in engaging in similar teams in the future. We have been able to build on this model for 2 additional years (2015 and 2016) of progressively larger size and scope.

Continuation:
Yes. We are using this as a model for ongoing teams that interweave (i.e. some students from one semester continue into the next to help integrate new students to the team, who then become the bridge to the following semester). We have had up to 40 students at a time engaging in these activities.
Dissemination:
PI Cohn has served on a number of panels at national professional meetings in engineering to discuss this strategy. We are also planning to write a journal article for the medical community. We have also used social media extensively to promote the team activities.
Advice to your Colleagues:
It's easy to get caught up in the excitement of doing and lose track of the documenting/assessing part! Stay with it from beginning to end...