Category Archives: Professionals

AERA: Frontiers in the Assessment of Entrustment and Competence across the Professions

Dear Colleagues,
As you plan your travels for the upcoming AERA meeting in Toronto, please also make note of the following Invited Panel Session (scheduled for Sunday morning, April 7) which includes presentations from three distinguished colleagues:

Invited Speaker Session: Frontiers in the Assessment of Entrustment and Competence across the Professions 

Session Date: Sunday morning, April 7, 2019 (exact time/location to be released this Friday, 2/15)

Invited Speakers: 

  • Olle ten Cate (Utrecht University): “Valuing what trainees are ready to do, rather than what they have done: entrustment as assessment”
  • Shiphra Ginsburg (University of Toronto): “How can qualitative assessment data inform entrustment decisions?”
  • Trudie Roberts (University of Leeds): “Machines rush in where humans fear to tread: the place of AI in assessment and entrustment”

Invited Session Overview: Concepts of entrustment and competence have resonated across the professions, with innovative and emerging methods to assess trainees. Recent advances in the literature have provided insights on the designs and frameworks to assess learners, including approaches that are beyond traditional forms of assessment. Yet, there are still challenges that remain as we struggle to refine assessments and understand how entrustment and competence can be operationalized and measured. This session will provide insights across the professions on current trends in the field, challenges, and frontier ideas, as they relate to entrustment and competence. 

Olle ten Cate: “Valuing what trainees are ready to do, rather than what they have done: entrustment as assessment”

Graduating trainees in the health professions means entrusting them with critical activities of the profession. An assessment system with that goal in mind should not be limited to observing and judging what can be seen, and has been seen, but should anticipate that learners will perform activities that have not been observed and even may have never been encountered. Trust and entrustment includes the willingness of educators and educational programs to accept risks when making entrustment decisions and consequently urge them to look into a learner’s capability to cope with unfamiliar challenges

Shiphra Ginsburg: “How can qualitative assessment data inform entrustment decisions?”

Assessment decisions have historically relied nearly exclusively on numeric scores and quantitative data. Narrative, qualitative assessment comments have often been ignored, despite offering a richer, more nuanced perspective on learners’ performance. These comments also shed light on how supervisors conceptualize feedback, performance and competence. How can we optimize the use of qualitative data when making entrustment decisions and other judgments about our learners?

Trudie Roberts: “Machines rush in where humans fear to tread: the place of AI in assessment and entrustment”

The fourth industrial revolution will mean major changes to the practice of many professions. In surgery the use of robots or co-bots is likely to be an increasing feature. Improved computing power will mean that in depth performance analytics will be available on all doctors. The machine will increasingly be part of the healthcare team. How much say then could a computer algorithm or a robot have on assessing a doctor’s competence and will trainees ever need a robot’s entrustment to progress. 

Thanks,
Yoon Soo
Vice President, AERA Division I
Education in the Professions

Want happier professors? Try being nicer.

Food for thought, though the survey described in this article had some noteworthy limitations.

Want happier professors? Try being nicer.

https://www.chronicle.com/article/Want-Happier-Professors-Try/239952

An Illustrated Ode to Women in Science

This MPR Story describes Rachel Ignotofsky’s illustrated book on women scientists.

An illustrated ode to women in science (MPR)

 

Codes of Ethics in the Professions

The Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions (at the Illinois Institute of Technology) hosts an extensive collection of codes of ethics across many different fields.  A valuable resource for professional studies scholars, researchers and practicing professionals in all fields.

Codes of Ethics Collections | ethics.iit.edu.

Women and Leadership: The Quest for Self-Confidence

A New York Times article last fall reported on the persistence of gender bias in the sciences.  A byproduct of differential experiences in the sciences is that they may undermine women’s confidence.  As a consequence, women in the sciences may be less likely to pursue opportunities for advancement within their institutions.  (see Bias Persists for Women of Science, a Study Finds)

In the widely read Lean In: Women, work and the will to lead, Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg (2013) discussed the challenges women face as they strive to “sit at the table” — play leadership roles in complex organizations.  In Chapter 2, she noted that “even now, I am a long way from mastering the art of feeling confident” (p. 37).  She concluded the chapter with the following observations:

No one accomplishes anything all alone.

But I also know that in order to continue to grow and challenge myself, I have to believe in my own abilities.  I still face situations that I fear are beyond my capabilities.  I still have days when I feel like a fraud.  And I still sometimes find myself spoken over and discounted while men sitting next to me are not.  But now I know how to take a deep breath and keep my hand up.  I have learned to sit at the table. (p. 38)

Sandberg’s book offered a host of documented examples of the barriers women still face today as they attempt to climb up the corporate ladder (or jungle gym, her more useful metaphor!).  I think the popularity of the book highlights a perceived recognition that many of us long for words of advice and encouragement, along with fresh new images of women as leaders.

Another recent New York Times article spotlighted Elizabeth H. Blackburn who, with Carol W. Greider and Jack W. Szostak, won the 2009 Nobel Prize for ground-breaking work on telomeres (see Charting Her Own Course).  Her recent work promises to shed important light not only on the relationship between stress, DNA and mortality, but to offer potentially very powerful biomedical applications that could transform the practice of medicine.  She clearly has earned a “seat at the table” as a scientist.  With respect to the theme of “confidence,” the following quote from Blackburn warrants attention.  Describing her more recent interdisciplinary research activities beyond the laboratory, she stated

I would have been a little afraid to do things, because my male colleagues wouldn’t have taken me seriously as a molecular biologist…[But now] Being senior enough in the field, having enough solidity, I don’t feel afraid of being marginalized” (2013, D6)

One wonders how many very capable women have not been able to pursue new directions in their work, given the long road many face to achieve seniority and therefore security (and perhaps “self-confidence”) in their fields.

In a related vein:  At my own institution, a new group — the Women’s Faculty Caucus — has formed to discuss issues of particular concern to faculty women.  This lively group has organized several business meetings and social gatherings.  Similar groups meet at other institutions.  This might be a good day to see what resources are available in your own organization.  Just as bias, isolation and marginalization erode self-confidence, collaboration with like-minded others has the potential to strengthen it. – EdProf

References

New York Times, September 24, 2012

Bias Persists for Women of Science, a Study Finds

Science professors at American universities widely regard female undergraduates as less competent than students with the same accomplishments and skills, a new study by researchers at Yale concluded.

New York Times, April 9, 2013

Charting Her Own Course

A Nobel-winning molecular biologist explores the connections of emotional stress, health and DNA.

Sandberg, Sheryl (2013). Lean In: Women, work and the will to lead.  New York: Alfred Knopf (written with Nel Scovell).

Further reading

Maitlin, M. W. (2012). The psychology of women.  Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.  [See pages 164 – 168 for a straightforward discussion of gender differences in self-confidence.  Recommended readings cited on page 171.]

Journalists on the Edge of Truth – NYTimes.com

In this re-blogged post (8/19/12), David Carr offers a number of interesting observations on pressures facing journalists.  I was especially struck by his observations on changes in the nature of professional socialization in journalism.  He notes a shift from how journalists who came up the ranks by working in old media (“legacy media”) to a new situation in which media stars rise to prominence without the requisite experiences necessary to foster conformity to conventionally understood professional ideals.   I wonder if there are not parallel problems in other fields as well?   — EdProf

Journalists on the Edge of Truth – NYTimes.com.

The Psychological Contract

In 1952, Rutgers University Professor Selman Waksman won the Nobel Prize for developing Streptomycin, a powerful antibiotic that cured tuberculosis.  His 23-year old graduate student, Albert Schatz, claimed to have been the first to isolate the bacterium that produced this drug in August, 1943.  Schatz and Waksman applied for a patent, but the royalties all went to Waksman.  Schatz sued and won a share of the royalties, but Waksman never acknowledged the part he played in the discovery.   Waksman had a distinguished career until his death in 1973.  Twenty years later, and fifty years after the discovery of Streptoymycin, Schatz published the second of two articles describing his role in the discovery (Schatz, 1993). This year, Schatz’ claim was confirmed by the discovery of his detailed 1943 lab notes in a box of Waksman’s papers (Pringle, 2012). The notes show that Schatz was the first to isolate the bacterium.

From a professional studies point of view, this story provides rich terrain for analysis.   It is a reminder that professional communities, while said to be self-policing, are not always or perhaps ever what novices imagine them to be. The disparity between students’ idealism and reality constitutes  a violation of the psychological contract implicit in the relationship between student and mentor as it is enacted within the structure of the research university.  When institutions violate the psychological contract, those who work within them experience adverse psychological effects.  This is not by any means limited to universities and science laboratories, but a more general phenomenon experienced by teachers, physicians, nurses, social workers, professors, and others who find themselves grappling with shifting institutional priorities, ominous new power structures, and heartbreaking barriers to best practice.  What this suggests to me is that those who train professionals need to try to understand students’ images of professional life and conceptions about the field as a whole.  They also need to be reflexive — able to model honest self-appraisal, self-criticism, awareness of the field’s potentially problematic effects, weaknesses and shortcomings, as well as its achievements and technical demands.  There is a vital role for the humanities and the social sciences in this enterprise.

To return to the case at hand, the “system” (and the individual scientists working within it) produced a great societal benefit, yet also permitted, and may have promoted, inequity and injustice.  And it is noteworthy that all this contention emerged concurrent with what one journalist described as “the birth of big Pharma.”  Today, scientific discoveries are made by large, complex groups of people, yet when we teach about science, we still employ a curriculum that spotlights the work of “heroic” individual scientists who are the stars of the scientific show — immortal symbols of the quest for understanding.  The media promote public conceptions of the solitary, successful, charismatic scientist (and teacher, and physician…) that no longer align well with professional life as most of us ordinary beings experience it.

Recognition remains the gold standard in the political economy of academic life — publications, citations,  grants, prizes, awards, tweets, followers!  Schatz never gave up his quest for recognition.  And as the “op ed” letter below suggests, Wacksman was a well regarded teacher and scientist who attended to the needs of the next generation (Erikson, 1950).  With respect to human lifespan development, I think this story demonstrates how scholarly priorities can change through the life course. In particular, the interests of senior scholars may move away from concerted efforts to acquire yet more intellectual knowledge toward articulation and reinterpretation of one’s life and its meaning.

Sources and Further Reading

Conway, N. & Briner, R. (2006). Understanding Psychological Contracts at Work: A Critical Evaluation of Theory and Research. Oxford University.

Erikson, E. (1950). Eight Stages of Man (Chapter 7), Childhood and Society, New York: W.W. Norton.

Forbes, P.  (2012).Experiment Eleven: Deceit and Betrayal in the Discovery of the Cure for Tuberculosis by Peter Pringle – review . The Guardian, June 29.

Pringle, P. (2012). Notebooks Shed Light on and Antibiotic’s Contested Discovery. New York Times, June 11.

Rousseau, Denise M. (1996). Psychological Contracts in Organizations: Understanding Written and Unwritten Agreements. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

Schatz, A. (1993). The true story of the discovery of Streptomycin.  Actinomycetes, Vol. IV, Part 2: 27-39