Education Research


PCHS Faculty and Trainees advance pharmacy education by innovating in their own classrooms and practice sites, disseminating findings of their innovations in scholarly forums and publications, and leading national dialogue and debate on educational policy and practice.



Creating Advanced Practitioners

creating advanced practitionersPCHS Department Professor Donald Uden (right) has served as co-chair of the Curriculum Revision Steering Committee, which has been leading the college’s effort in developing the new curriculum. “We’re designing a new curriculum to better prepare our graduates for the changing health care environment and enable them to lead change within the profession,” said Uden.

Dr. Uden also is a leader in Interprofessional Education. His research initiatives work to connect students from health professions and related disciplines to learn about the concepts of health care and provision of health care services. A better understanding of these concepts will lead toward improving the effectiveness and the quality of health care.

Assessment and Evaluation

Assessment and Evaluation

Evaluation of Critical Thinking in the PharmD Curriculum by SAPh PhD Graduate Student, Erika Freitas

erika freitasErika L. Freitas, M.S.; Degree: PhD
Thesis Title: Why do I think the way I do? Troubling the concept of critical thinking in pharmacy classrooms

On February 25, 2014, Dr. Erika Freitas presented her dissertation findings about critical thinking in pharmacy education. Dr. Freitas holds expertise for understanding how students in the health professions learn, how they develop critical thinking skills, and how our education methods and systems affect these processes. Her work is giving insights for our college’s curriculum revision process and for pharmacy education in the United States.

Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

Concept Mapping

keri hagerStudent Perceptions of Concept Mapping, Reflective Writing, and Patchwork Assessment in a Pharmaceutical Care Course

Principal Investigator: Keri Hager, PharmD

What is unique about how you’ve used concept mapping?
Concept mapping, or visually showing the relationship between topics, has been used in classrooms at every education level. We paired concept mapping with reflective writing and patchwork assessment in our teaching of pharmaceutical care. First year students completed three rounds of concept mapping and two reflective writing assignments, receiving feedback from their peers and instructors at each iteration. By incorporating reflective writing and patchwork assessment, students had an opportunity to examine the progression of their own learning over the semester.

How are the results being used to refine instruction?
In addition to serving as a tool for students to connect and organize course material, concept maps provided the course instructors a snapshot of student learning. By utilizing an iterative concept mapping process, we were able to identify points of confusion, see the evolution in students’ thinking, and modify what we did in the classroom to meet student learning needs. For example, when reviewing concept maps we noticed many students struggled with the relationship between medication dispensing and the practice of pharmaceutical care. As a result, we spent additional time clarifying these concepts in class and saw improvement in their understanding on the next concept map submission.

Team-Based Learning

anita sharmaThe Effects of Team-Based Learning on Student Accountability and Engagement

Principal Investigator: Anita Sharma, PharmDCOP3 – Image – 130x130 – Anita Sharma
2nd year Pharmaceutical Care Leadership Resident (
Faculty Mentors: Wendy St. Peter, PharmD, and Kristin Janke, PhD

Why did we undertake this evaluative work on TBL?
TBL is a notable transition for students. The beneficial effects on student preparedness are readily apparent to instructors and have been discussed in conferences and papers. However, anecdotal information indicates that student satisfaction may decrease at least initially, presumably because of more accountability and more expectation for active student involvement. We sought to understand and document accountability, satisfaction, and preferences (e.g. TBL vs Lecture) more systematically and thoroughly. We also assessed student engagement, comparing TBL and traditional lecture.

What does this work add to pharmacy’s understanding of the outcomes of TBL?
A number of colleges/schools have reported on the effects of TBL on exam scores. Information on accountability, satisfaction, preferences and engagement aids in further understanding the value of TBL. It also helps us to prepare for and respond to student perspectives and concerns as the transition is being made.

Professional Engagement

ben aronson professional engagementDevelopment of the Student Pharmacist Inventory of Professional Engagement (S-PIPE)

Principal Investigator: Ben Aronson, PharmD, PhD Candidate
Faculty Mentor: Kristin Janke, PhD

Why is professional engagement important?
This work complements and builds on our work related to student pharmacist professionalism. Our students self-assess five domains of professionalism; the Citizenship and Professional Engagement domain is regularly rated the lowest. To understand why, we are seeking to better define and measure professional engagement in student pharmacists. Engagement, conceptualized in various forms, is linked to positive outcomes. School engagement is correlated to academic performance. Work engagement is correlated to worker productivity and job satisfaction. Unfortunately, these other types of engagement don't adequately capture the engagement of developing professionals, which includes activity outside the classroom, but not necessarily as an employee.

Why is this instrument development needed? 
Along with patient care related competencies, professional engagement is a major intended outcome of pharmacy programs. By being able to measure professional engagement, educators and administrators can gain an improved understanding of the factors that influence it, the process by which students become engaged, and the impact of interventions to improve it.

Becoming a Pharmacist

julie johnsonStudent Pharmacist Engagement and Learning Outcomes in a Three-Week Becoming a Pharmacist Course

Principal Investigator: Julie Johnson, PharmD

What is Becoming a Pharmacist (BaP)?
BaP is a three week course at the beginning of our new curriculum. During this 14 day experience, students have no other courses. The focus is on transitioning to professional education, becoming familiar with the disciplines that will be studied in the curriculum and developing a sense of pride in the profession. Much like a professional conference, students are exposed to a variety of speakers, but they also participate in workshops and carefully designed events that help them appreciate the pharmacist’s role. For instance, students travel to communities within the state, touring practices, speaking with local health care providers and learning about the health needs of the area. The course is delivered on two campuses with strong coordination between the leads on both campuses to ensure equivalent experiences.

What approach did you use to evaluate this unique course?
As with other courses, traditional course evaluations and faculty debriefings were used to gather input on satisfaction and areas for improvement. In addition, student performance was examined. However, with over 20 faculty and approximately 70 hours of experiences, we were also interested in the impact of the sequence as it was occurring, not just at the end. Did we distribute experiences effectively? Was engagement and learning building? As a result, we added weekly “pulse checks”. These were short, 15 question ratings completed by students at the end of each week, which also allowed comments and suggestions. With these pulse checks, we were able to monitor student perceptions of their contributions, participation and engagement, as well as elements of significant learning, such as impact on “caring more and differently for others”. Instructors responded to this information as the course unfolded. However, it will also assist us in refining the course.

“CPD Ready” Practitioners

kristin jankeDeveloping "CPD Ready" Practitioners through an Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Process

Principal Investigator: Kristin Janke, PhD

Why do we need to work to advance students’ self-directed, lifelong learning skills?
K-12 and higher education may not provide many opportunities for students to direct their own learning. Often, educators assume primary responsibility for identifying learning objectives, defining learning activities and determining the metrics for success. However, when students become professionals, what and how they learn is up to them. As educators, we need to provide opportunities to practice being self-directed learners and to exercise the relevant skills.

How might Continuing Professional Development (CPD) help to enhance students’ self-directed, lifelong learning skills?
Implementing a Continuing Professional Development (CPD) process provides structure and context for acquiring self-directed, lifelong learning skills. Students are challenged to determine their career goals, outline learning objectives and activities that will move them toward those goals and evaluate their progress. Moving through this cycle repeatedly, over the course of a year, exercises skills in self-assessment, learning planning and reflection. Our work indicates that after four rounds of CPD (quarterly) students report proficiency in these skills and instructor ratings concur!



Todd Sorensen and Kristin Janke are part of a team that is coordinating a Leadership Emphasis Area

The profession of pharmacy is in dynamic times, attempting to transform the role of the pharmacist from a product-oriented practitioner focused on medication distribution to a patient-centered practitioner able to meet the complex drug therapy needs of individuals and society. To create the change that will allow this transformation to occur, the profession must prepare pharmacists to lead this change – both at the level of an individual practice as well as on a larger scale. The ability to lead change requires a unique set of knowledge, skills and values and these attributes cannot be fully developed over a single semester or even a single year of a PharmD curriculum. To facilitate the development of pharmacists who will seek to lead change, the College offers a curricular emphasis in leadership development.