Applying Conceptual and Theoretical Frameworks to Health Professions Education Research: An Introductory Workshop

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Article, Peer-reviewed

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Introduction: Literature suggests that the quality and rigor of health professions education (HPE) research can be elevated if the research is anchored in existing theories and frameworks. This critical skill is difficult for novice researchers to master. We created a workshop to introduce the practical application of theories and frameworks to HPE research.

Methods: We conducted two 60- to 75-minute workshops, one in 2019 at an in-person national conference and another in 2021 during an online national education conference. After a brief role-play introduction, participants applied a relevant theory to a case scenario in small groups, led by facilitators with expertise in HPE research. The workshop concluded with a presentation on applying the lessons learned when preparing a scholarly manuscript. We conducted a postworkshop survey to measure self-reported achievement of objectives.

Results: Fifty-five individuals participated in the in-person workshop, and approximately 150 people completed the online workshop. Sixty participants (30%) completed the postworkshop survey across both workshops. As a result of participating in the workshop, 80% of participants (32) indicated they could distinguish between frameworks and theories, and 86% (32) could apply a conceptual or theoretical framework to a research question. Strengths of the workshop included the small-group activity, access to expert facilitators, and the materials provided.

Discussion: The workshop has been well received by participants and fills a gap in the existing resources available to HPE researchers and mentors. It can be replicated in multiple settings to model the application of conceptual and theoretical frameworks to HPE research.

Keywords: Conceptual Framework; Continuing Professional Development; Faculty Development; Publishing/Scholarship; Theoretical Framework; Theory.