Pedagogy in Health Promotion
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In line with the complex modern health care system and the increasing importance of interprofessional teams, a powerful strategy to facilitate the acquisition of essential teamwork skills and expose students to complex decision-making processes is learning in teams. The purpose of our study was to obtain empirical evidence of superior decision-making by teams versus individuals in two simulated decision-making exercises conducted 4 months apart. We collected quantitative data from three cohorts of Master of Public Health students to determine if teams make better decisions than individuals (“team effect”) between September and January. Students completed simulated emergency survival exercises requiring them to make correct decisions individually and then as teams. Decision quality was determined by comparison to survival experts’ decisions. We calculated the “team effect” as the gain or loss of mean individual versus group scores across 10 learning teams per cohort for fall and winter exercises. All three cohorts had a consistently small average team effect in September and a much larger team effect in January. Our study showed consistent improvements in decision-making after students had worked in teams for 4 months. Overall, this study demonstrates the potential benefit of incorporating team learning into a public health curriculum and the importance of strategies to teach teamwork in health education. Using simulation in health education and promoting team learning activities can help prepare students for interprofessional collaboration, a part of the demanding public health landscape. These results might help convince students of the benefits of teamwork, facilitate collaborative decision-making, and enhance the learning experience.
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