Enacting Pedagogy in Curricula: On the Vital Role of Governance in Medical Education

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Abstract

Managing curricula and curricular change involves both a complex set of decisions and effective enactment of those decisions. The means by which decisions are made, implemented, and monitored constitute the governance of a program. Thus, effective academic governance is critical to effective curriculum delivery. Medical educators and medical education researchers have been invested heavily in issues of educational content, pedagogy, and design. However, relatively little consideration has been paid to the governance processes that ensure fidelity of implementation and ongoing refinements that will bring curricular practices increasingly in line with the pedagogical intent. In this article, the authors reflect on the importance of governance in medical schools and argue that, in an age of rapid advances in knowledge and medical practices, educational renewal will be inhibited if discussions of content and pedagogy are not complemented by consideration of a governance framework capable of enabling change. They explore the unique properties of medical curricula that complicate academic governance, review the definition and properties of good governance, offer mechanisms to evaluate the extent to which governance is operating effectively within a medical program, and put forward a potential research agenda for increasing the collective understanding of effective governance in medical education.

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