In institutional assessments of faculty, scholarly activity is often cited as a deficiency. Faculty lack the training and resources needed to produce peer-reviewed, quality scholarship. Although a variety of formats have been suggested and used to fill this void, fellowships are a commonly used format to foster educational leaders within institutions. In 2010, the Educational Innovation Institute at the Medical College of Georgia created an educational research fellowship to address this need.
To assess the success of our programme, we compared all graduating fellows’ current curriculum vitae (CVs) with the version submitted at the time of their application, looking for educational scholarship produced during and after their participation in the fellowship. Qualitative data sources, such as article reflections, mid-fellowship surveys, and exit surveys were analyzed to identify the mechanisms that contributed to their success. The constant comparative method was used to identify themes and patterns.
A comparison of CVs collected at the time of application with a current CV indicate the 11 participants produced: 60 presentations at regional or national meetings, 16 peer reviewed publications, received funding for 7 grants supporting educational research, and won 7 national research awards. Our qualitative analysis identified three major mechanisms: 1) dedicated time to conducting educational research, 2) opportunities to engage with others, and 3 ) understanding the differences between educational and clinical research.
Previous criticisms of fellowships include faculty not producing educational scholarship after completing their programme. Our retrospective analysis indicates our research fellowship was successful in developing physicians and clinical educators to become educational researchers. What was most useful was having dedicated time to work with others interested in producing educational scholarship, and expert guidance in understanding the differences between clinical and educational research. The most challenging aspect of conducting education research was their need to use conceptual frameworks and learning theory in their work. Implications for this study include the need for a strong curricular focus on the differences between clinical and educational research for any fellowship programme.