Department of Medicine Publications

Measuring Educational Workload: A Pilot Study of Paper-based and PDA Tools

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Medical Teacher





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BACKGROUND: Teaching is an important professional role for most faculty members in academic health sciences centres. Careful delineation of educational workload is needed to foster and reward teaching efforts, and to facilitate equitable allocation of resources.

AIMS: To promote recognition in teaching and facilitate equitable resource allocation, we developed, piloted, and qualitatively assessed a tool for delineating the educational workload of pediatric faculty in an academic health sciences centre.

METHODS: A prototype educational workload measurement tool was developed. Between 2002 and 2004, three successive phases of pilot implementation were conducted to (1) assess the face validity of the tool, (2) assess its feasibility, and (3) develop and assess the feasibility of a PDA (Personal Digital Assistant) version. Participants were interviewed regarding strengths, weaknesses, and barriers to completion. Data were analyzed for recurrent themes.

RESULTS: Faculty found that the tool was usable and represented a broad range of educational activities. The PDA format was easier to use and better received. Technical support would be imperative for long-term implementation. The greatest barriers to implementation were skepticism about the purpose of the tool and concerns that it would promote quantity over quality of teaching.

CONCLUSION: We developed a usable tool to capture data on the diverse educational workload of pediatric faculty. PDA technology can be used to facilitate collection of workload data. Faculty skepticism is an important barrier that should be addressed in future work.


Dr. Lorelei Lingard is currently a faculty member at The University of Western Ontario.

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