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University of Wisconsin–Madison

Video: Dr. Gwen McIntosh on Self-Directed and Lifelong Learning

In the video below, Dr. Gwen McIntosh, the assistant dean of student services, discusses how the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health prepares students to be active learners throughout their lives and careers. She explains how both the Legacy and ForWard curricula help students learn to identify gaps in their knowledge and to develop and carry out plans to address the gaps and improve their knowledge and skills.

Key Points

The UW School of Medicine and Public Health is deeply committed to students being active learners throughout their medical career. One way to accomplish this is to help them develop the skills needed to pursue self-directed, lifelong learning.

SMPH students must be able to independently identify knowledge gaps and to seek and synthesize relevant, credible information to close the gaps. Identifying and supplementing knowledge gaps helps students grow as learners, a skill that will foster responsibility and professionalism in their future careers.

Examples of Self-Directed Learning

  • Within the Legacy clinical curriculum, clerkship mid-rotation feedback is one way students can identify and close their knowledge gaps. Students self-assess their performance and then meet with a faculty member to identify and discuss gaps in knowledge or skills.
  • In the ForWard curriculum, students participate in Patient Centered Education, or PaCE, cases. These small-group experiences allow students to present PaCE case topics to their peers. Longitudinal teacher coaches facilitate discussions following the presentations. In this way, students have an opportunity to direct and regulate their learning as well as develop lifelong learning skills.

Download a printable pdf of the key points

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