E-Learning as Evidence of Educational Scholarship: A Survey of Chairs of Promotion and Tenure Committees at U.S. Medical Schools

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Abstract

Purpose

To ascertain the attitudes of chairs of U.S. medical school promotion committees toward e-learning and how their institutions recognize and reward faculty for e-learning as a scholarly activity.

Method

In 2007, the authors mailed a questionnaire to chairs of promotion and tenure committees at 123 U.S. medical schools. Chairs rated the importance of major areas of clinician–educators’ e-learning performance using a five-point scale (1 = not important; 5 = extremely important). In another section, chairs rated the quality of information that is usually available to evaluate faculty performance in e-learning scholarship using a five-point scale (1 = low quality; 5 = excellent). Respondents were also able to enter qualitative comments about the role of e-learning and educational scholarship at their institution. Frequency distributions for each question were examined to identify any irregularities in the data, and descriptive statistics were used to summarize responses to questions. Themes were extracted from the qualitative data.

Results

The response rate to the survey was 51% (63/123). Fifty-six (88.8%) participants indicated that educational scholarship was at least moderately important to a candidate’s chances of promotion. Forty-eight (76%) respondents recognized e-learning as a meaningful contribution to scholarship. The chairs rated several levels of evaluation as well as types of e-learning activities and products: changing learner outcomes, developing and disseminating materials, authoring publications, receiving grant awards, serving on editorial boards, and directing a program.

Conclusions

Promotion chairs value selected e-learning activities and products as evidence of teaching scholarship.

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