Scholarly Teaching Series Part 8: Check Results Against Baseline

This is the eighth post in the Scholarly Teaching Series. Building off the work of Richlin (2001), we are highlighting various projects at the MN-COP to illustrate each step in the Scholarly Teaching process.

ST Figure Step 8Check Results Against Baseline

Here are steps in the Scholarly Teaching process we have covered so far:

Step 1: Observe a Problem or Opportunity and Document the Baseline

Step 2: Consult Literature

Step 3: Choose and Apply an Intervention

Step 4: Conduct Systematic Observation

Step 5: Document Observations

Step 6: Analyze Results

Step 7: Obtain Peer Evaluation

This brings us to the final step in the Scholarly Teaching Series, Check Results Against Baseline. This is the last step in the scholarly teaching process before moving on to disseminating the work as the scholarship of teaching and learning. Comparing one’s results to the baseline gives you an opportunity to determine what, if anything, changed after the intervention. It also provides a means for applying new knowledge to your future work.

Diabetes Attitudes and Perceptions Survey

Sarah Schweiss, Project Lead

Dr. Sarah Schweiss has taught diabetes therapy to pharmacy students as part of the required, core curriculum and in an elective course. She used the Michigan Diabetes Research and Training Center Diabetes Attitudes Scale (DAS-3) survey instrument to see how these two groups of students compared to one another. She states:

We administered the survey to see how students who took the diabetes elective differed from those who only learned about diabetes in the core curriculum. The results weren’t quite what we expected, but one of the statistically significant findings has been the students who took the elective felt they didn’t need additional special training to care for diabetes patients, whereas those who solely went through the core curriculum felt they did need additional special training.  

While this intervention did not compare results to baseline in a traditional sense, it does illustrate one of the many ways to utilize this step in the process. Especially when courses or curriculum are redesigned, checking results to baseline can mean comparing different cohorts of students. Making comparisons to a baseline can lead to further changes in the classroom, as Dr. Schweiss reports:

The findings from the Diabetes Attitudes Scale (DAS-3) survey justified the changes the teaching team made with regards to diabetes content in the MN-COP’s new curriculum. For example, much of our elective diabetes content has now been moved into the core curriculum. We have now been teaching this updated diabetes course for two years and are interested in administering the survey again to students in the new curriculum to see how responses change.  

The Connection to Your Work

“Comparing against baseline” can provide useful information in understanding the effect of a change and it can be done in a variety of ways.  Here are some questions to consider to aid in planning:

What is the most appropriate, relevant group for comparison?  

Should there be pre-post work with the cohort experiencing the change?  Comparison against a previous cohort?  Comparison against a future cohort?  Comparison against students/residents at another point in their training? Comparison against a cohort in another school?

What should the comparison entail?

Changes in perceptions?  Changes in learning/ability (e.g. comparison of tests or assignments)?  Changes in performance (e.g. comparison of interactions with a standardized patient, changes as reported by observations by a preceptor)?

Who are the best individuals to be weighing in on the evaluation of any change?

Students?  Peers?  Senior students?  Teaching Assistants?  Instructors?  Faculty outside the course?  Graduate students outside the course? Volunteer pharmacists? Preceptors?  Employers?


For more information:

Project Lead: Sarah Schweiss, Pharm.D.

Additional Team Members: Maggie Kading, Pharm.D., Ph.D., Sarah Westberg, Pharm.D., Reid Smith, Pharm.D., Ph.D.


Richlin, L. (2001). Scholarly Teaching and the Scholarship of Teaching. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 2001(86), 57–68.

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