Director's Message   

Director photo Last month OMERAD was proud to host Karen Hauer, MD, as the 2010 Maatsch Visiting Scholar in Medical Education. Dr. Hauer is a professor of Medicine at the University of California-San Francisco School of Medicine, where she holds the Haile T. Debas Endowed Education Chair in Internal Medicine, and received the Clerkship Directors in Internal Medicine Outstanding Educational Research Award in 2003. Her nationally recognized research focuses on clinical skills training, remediation, students' learning in different clerkship structures, and career choice. Dr. Hauer's presentation was given on November 9th at the annual meeting of the Association of American Medical Colleges in Washington, D.C. to a standing-room only audience. The title of her presentation was Beyond Clinical Performance Assessment: Feedback, Learning Goals and Remediation. She discussed educational issues around clinical competence and reviewed current studies highlighting the importance of assessment and feedback in the development of professional competency. The slides from Dr. Hauer's presentation are available on the OMERAD website at:


The Maatsch Visiting Scholar program was established to stimulate interaction around the development and assessment of clinical competence. The program recognizes the many contributions of Jack Maatsch, who served as a professor in OMERAD from 1971 to 1980. He collaborated on many projects focusing on the application of instructional theory and technologies, especially simulation technology, to teaching and assessment in medicine. He served as director of OMERAD from 1980 until 1989, broadening the range of activities of the office and stimulating significant research and service projects within the College of Human Medicine and the University. He retired in 1990.


Brian Mavis, Ph.D.
Associate Professor and Director
Office of Medical Education Research and Development
College of Human Medicine


Faculty Development Seminar Series, Spring 2011

The OMERAD Faculty Development Seminar Series will present several workshops during spring semester. The first workshop is described below. A specific date and time will be announced in January.


  • Using PowerPoint Effectively - February 2011
  • Learn cognitive principles to help you make your PowerPoint slides more effective. Then learn how to put those principles into action using multimedia, animation, interaction and more. This hands-on workshop is for people who already know the basics of PowerPoint.

A Virtual Community for Medical Educators:

DR-ED Listserv


The Internet has greatly facilitated global communication, and listserv technology offers a convenient means of providing near real-time global exchange of ideas and information. In 1994 OMERAD started the DR-ED listserv as a means of connecting medical educators for the purpose of sharing information. 


DR-ED is an email-based discussion group, created as a forum for discussion for those interested in research and faculty development in medical education. Specifically, DR-ED was developed to:

  • promote discussion and development related to medical education;
  • facilitate networking among colleagues who share common interests or expertise;
  • provide an electronic forum for disseminating information about funding and other resources related to medical education development and research interests.

DR-ED has grown to become a multidisciplinary virtual community of medical educators representing a wide array of expertise related to professional education. DR-ED now represents a global community of 1,640 medical educators from 32 countries. Members post questions about developing new curricula, student assessment, policies and procedures or just about any other aspect of professional education. It also provides a means for disseminating information about new resources and for seeking collaborators for new projects.


To subscribe to DR-ED:


1. Address an email message to: [email protected]

2. Leave the subject line blank

3. The only text in the message should read: subscribe dr-ed firstname lastname substituting your own first and last name (e.g., subscribe dr-ed Bill Anderson)

4. Send the email; within 48 hours you should receive an automated confirmation if successful, as well as additional instructions, if necessary.

5. Once you have subscribed, you can post notes to DR-ED by addressing them to: [email protected]


For more information visit the DR-ED website at: or

the DR-ED Frequently Asked Questions at:


Learning the "Difficult Stuff": Multimedia Practices that Promote Effective Learning 

When designing an educational resource that contains multimedia components, particular attention should be paid to the selection, sequencing and presentation of information. According to the AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges) Institute for Improving Medical Education, one challenge of instructional design is to create multimedia learning that includes only the features that promote learning while leaving out additional elements that may induce cognitive overload and detract from the learning experience.

Richard Mayer's (2001) widely known principles of multimedia learning design offer a great guide to medical educators on how to incorporate multimedia components into their educational interventions that maximize learner's cognitive processing during learning. Consider these ten principles and put them to practice when designing a multimedia educational resource:

1. Coherence Principle: People learn better when extraneous words, pictures, and sounds are excluded rather than included.

2. Pre-Training Principle: People learn better from a multimedia lesson when they know the names and characteristics of the main concepts.

3. Spatial Contiguity Principle: Present corresponding words and pictures in close proximity to each other.

4. Temporal Contiguity Principle: Present corresponding words and pictures simultaneously rather than successively.

5. Signaling Principle: People learn better when the words include cues about the organization of the presentation.

6. Redundancy Principle: Pair animation and narration together without on-screen text.

7. Voice Principle: People learn better when words are spoken in a standard-accented human voice than in a machine voice or foreign-accented human voice.

8. Personalization Principle: People learn better when the words are in conversational style rather than formal style.

9. Segmenting Principle: Offer narrated animation in learner-paced segments rather than a continuous unit.

10. Modality Principle: Pair animation and narration together instead of pairing animation and on-screen text.

Thus, we see how the effective use of interactive multimedia as described by Rogers et al. (2002) can add clarity of information to a process through the offering of multiple "...representations of the same process (e.g., graph, a formula, a sound, a simulation)...."(p. 87); multimedia information can be "...displayed and interacted with in ways that make their relationship with each other more explicit to the learner..." (Rogers et al, 2002, p. 87).

Multimedia can also add richness and meaning to show as well as tell but if it is not done thoughtfully and with a real intent to practice these principles, it can add needless complexity and provoke learner frustration.

Free instructional design help is available to faculty redesigning their CHM courses for blended and online delivery. To find out more about B-CLR  consultation services, please contact  Geraud Plantegenest at [email protected]. You can also visit the B-CLR webpage at


  • Effective Use of Educational Technology in Medical Education. Colloquium on Educational Technology: Recommendations and Guidelines for Medical Educators. AAMC Institute for Improving Medical Education. 2007; 9-10.
  • Mayer, R. E. (2001). Multimedia Learning. New York: Cambridge University Press.
  • Preece J,Rogers Y & Sharp H. (2002) Interaction Design: Beyond Human-Computer Interaction. USA: Wiley & Sons.


CHM Program Evaluation
A Closer Look at Student Performance: PBL, USMLE Step 1 and Residency Specialty

Problem-based learning as an educational strategy has consistently been a point of debate among medical educators. While many educators recognize the implicit value of active learning in small groups, others are not convinced that PBL has lived up to expectations. 


Medical students generally recognize that PBL is more effective than large lecture classes in achieving a wide range of educational goals, such as:

  • Making learning enjoyable
  • Helping derive more accurate differential diagnoses
  • Preparing for clerkships
  • Enhancing learning skills that can be used for career-long learning
  • Learning clinical problem-solving

One area where students are more anxious about PBL is as preparation for USMLE Step 1. The reasons are two-fold: this examination is a gateway that students must pass before moving to their clinical training, and many residency programs use USMLE Step 1 scores as part of their selection process. 


Figure 1 below summarizes the relationship between PBL exam scores and USMLE Step 1 scores (first try) for CHM students, aggregating data for graduates from 2001 through 2009. The data show a clear trend, with better PBL examination performance associated with higher USMLE Step 1 scores. The correlation between the two performance indicators is 0.79.  The pass score for USMLE Step 1 has increased over time and has been 182 or greater since 2001; currently it is 188. Although there is a consistent increase in board score performance associated with high PBL examination scores, the variability for each PBL performance cohort is reasonably consistent. This variability is indicative of the variety of factors involved in measures of academic performance. 


Figure 2 below illustrates the relationship between USMLE Step 1 performance and specialty choice represented by residency match data. The distribution of first attempt Step 1 scores are shown for each of the major specialties selected by CHM graduates, aggregated across nine years. There is relatively little variability in the mean USMLE Step 1 scores when compared across specialties, with most close to the 210-215 range.  Radiology and Orthopedic Surgery are the notable exceptions. For each specialty cohort, there is wide variability in the scores attained by CHM students.


These data suggest that student anxieties about the adequacies of PBL as preparation for USMLE Step 1 are unfounded. Doing well in PBL is highly predictive of doing well on the board examination. Further, these data show that multiple choice exam scores/Step scores are only one determinant of residency match, and that other SCRIPT outcomes figure prominently in residency match outcomes.


Please see the resources below for more information about PBL.


Albanese MA.  Problem-based learning: Why curricula are likely to show little effect on knowledge and clinical skills.  Medical Education. 2000; 34: 729-738.


Colliver JA. Effectiveness of problem-based learning curricula: Research and theory.  Academic Medicine. 2000; 75(3): 259-266.


Koh GCH, Khoo HE, Wong ML & Koh D.  The effects of problem-based learning during medical school on physician competency: A systematic review.  Canadian Medical Association Journal.  2008; 178(1): 34-41.


Van Berkel H & Schmidt H.  On the additional value of lectures in a problem-based learning curriculum. Education for Health. 2005; 18(1): 45-61.


Faculty Development
Conducting a Hands-on Workshop over the Internet

Although faculty interest remains high, attendance at OMERAD's Faculty Development Seminar Series has been dwindling because of the time, effort and expense of traveling to East Lansing for the workshops.  So we decided to look for an alternative method of providing workshops. Last spring we taught a hands-on workshop over the Internet. The faculty stayed in their offices and the instructors stayed in theirs and communicated via a desktop web-based videoconferencing system.


The workshop we presented was titled Adapting Live Lectures for Recording and the faculty-learners practiced using Camtasia Studio to record, edit and produce audio narration for their PowerPoint lectures. The participants in this pilot were three senior faculty in Grand Rapids. The instructors were in East Lansing. We used desktop videoconferencing software called Acrobat Connect to teach the workshop.


Because Connect lets you show your computer screen to others logged in to the session, we were able to give a live PowerPoint lecture on the recording process and demonstrate how to record a six-slide lecture using Camtasia Studio. We then took a 15-minute break, during which the faculty-learners practiced recording the same lecture, using the printed tutorial, script and slides we had emailed them earlier. During their recording session we provided a help line via a conference phone. Faculty and instructors then reconvened online and discussed their experience during recording.


We orally debriefed with the faculty at the end of the session and sent a link to an online survey. Faculty agreed that this format was a satisfactory way to get hands-on instruction without having to travel. The two main issues we encountered were getting the faculty up to speed on the web videoconferencing software and running out of instructional time. The next time we present this workshop we will increase the length of the session from one hour to 90 minutes and will hold individual practice sessions using Acrobat Connect with each participant before the workshop begins.


We feel that one reason the hands-on workshop conducted at a distance was successful was because of meticulous preparation and attention to detail. The three instructors practiced using and teaching with Acrobat Connect so we would be at ease with the hardware and software. We stepped through the teaching to anticipate problems and come up with alternate solutions. We sent detailed instructions to the participants before the session. We kept the instructional material concise and focused.


The implications of this method of teaching hands-on at a distance are that we can save time, money and effort but still provide faculty with workshops and seminars. We will have to work smarter and harder to make sure the workshops are useful even though we will not be there in person. We described this workshop at the MSU Explorations in Instructional Technology brown bag series, where the discussion centered on two questions: 1) how many learners can be effectively accommodated in one session, and what kinds of topics can be taught effectively via remote hands-on instruction. We are still looking for answers to those questions.


In This Issue
CHM Program Evaluation
Faculty Development
Hot Off the Press

New articles published by OMERAD faculty:

Development and Evaluation of a Health Record Online Submission (HOST)

Authors: Wagner D, Roskos S, DeMuth R & Mavis, B.

Medical Education Online. 2010;15:5350, DOI:10.3402/meo.v15i0.5350

An interactive gallery featuring examples of CHM blended and online learning projects by B-CLR.
A medical Education listserv maintained by OMERAD.

MEO is a peer-reviewed international
open access journal for disseminating information on the education and training of physicians and other health care professionals.

Click on the link to view past issues of our newsletter.

Medical Education Scholarship Group
Meets first Wednesday of each month in room A216 East Fee Hall from 1:30pm-3:00pm.For questions about this group contact Dr.  Mavis: [email protected]

OMERAD Technology Center (OTC) 
Units within the College of Human Medicine interested in sponsoring faculty and/or staff development programs in support of education and scholarship may request use of the room.

The OTC is located in A211 East Fee Hall.

For questions about the OTC contact John Williamson: [email protected]

Contact  Us
For questions about this newsletter, please contact us at:
Visit our website for more information:

The Office of Medical Education Research and Development is a unit within the College of Human Medicine at Michigan State University. Its mission is to improve medical education and related service programs through evaluation and research consultation, relevant instruction, and programs of faculty development.
Established in 1966, OMERAD is the oldest continuously operating office of medical education in the United States.

A-202 East Fee Hall
East Lansing, Michigan 48824