Creating an “Education Shark Tank” to Encourage and Support Educational Scholarship and Innovation

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Abstract

Problem

Creating and supporting opportunities for innovation that showcase and reward creativity in medical and biomedical education is critically important for academic institutions, learners, and faculty.

Approach

In 2014, the Institute for Excellence in Education at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine created a small grant program called Education Shark Tank, in which two to five finalist teams present their proposals on innovative initiatives to improve education to four or five senior educator “sharks” at an educational conference, with an audience. The sharks then “grill” the presenters, considering which if any to fund, focusing on the rationale, feasibility, appropriateness of the outcome measures, evaluation and assessment plan, and proposed method of dissemination. They also make suggestions that challenge the presenters to assess and improve their designs.

Outcomes

In the program’s first year (2014), funds were divided equally between two projects, both of which were successfully completed and one of which led to a journal publication; this led to increased funding for the program in 2015. Participants have called Education Shark Tank a “challenging and rewarding experience.”

Next Steps

Education Shark Tank can facilitate educational innovation and scholarship via engaging and challenging interactions between grant applicants and reviewers in a public venue. The authors plan to conduct a five-year survey (after 2018) of all Education Shark Tank finalists to determine the success and challenges the funded projects have had, what scholarly dissemination has occurred, whether nonfunded projects were able to move forward, and the value of the feedback and mentoring received.

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