After a full year of implementation, the course instructor conducted a series of assessment activities to collect students’, faculty members’, and preceptors’ input about the role the Learning Bridge process played in student learning (the survey instrument is available from the author). In addition, faculty members and preceptors were asked to reflect on the contribution, if any, of the Learning Bridge process to the dynamic of faculty teamwork and precepting success, respectively. The Blackboard tool was used to collect responses from students, and SurveyMonkey (SurveyMonkey, Portland, OR) was used to administer the preceptor and faculty surveys. Quantitative and qualitative questions were included in each survey instruments. Quantitative responses were based on the following Likert scale: strongly agree, agree, neutral, strongly disagree, and disagree. We considered a combined score of strongly agree and agree equal to or greater than 75% to be a desired and acceptable level of agreement. The Pacific University Institutional Research Board approved the study and the 3 survey instruments.
In addition to completing survey items about the benefits of the Learning Bridge assignments, all 3 groups were asked questions about student learning. Because student learning is difficult to assess objectively and student perceptions may not accurately assess the intended learning outcomes,7
we felt it was important to assess student learning from multiple viewpoints. The following definitions were included on the student survey instrument to ensure that we collected accurate student perceptions.
Critical-thinking skills: intellectual skills to critically interpret and evaluate a concept or a problem in order to synthesize or find an accurate answer to a question.
Self-directed learning: students are self-guided and know how to use their knowledge and resources to complete assignments.
Active learning: students utilize and refer to their own knowledge to answer a question and also actively seek and explore other resources and gather relevant information to improve or find a better answer.
The above definitions also were included on the preceptor survey instrument in the pilot study, but not on the faculty survey instrument because the definitions had been discussed frequently in faculty development workshops. Student, preceptor, and faculty responses to the quantitative survey questions assessing student learning outcomes are summarized in Table .
Assessment of Student Learning From the Learning Bridge Assignments
Completion of the student survey instrument was mandatory and therefore had a 100% response rate (n = 92). Submission of the preceptor survey was not mandatory, and 26 preceptors completed the survey (28% respondent rate). In addition, 12 faculty members familiar with the Learning Bridge process (7 pharmacist faculty members and 5 PhD nonpharmacist faculty members completed the faculty survey [71% response rate]).
Study Outcome 1: Enhancing Student Learning by Bridging the IPPE with the Didactic Curriculum
Eighty-two percent of students, 96% of preceptors, and 82% of faculty members believed that the Learning Bridge assignments facilitated student learning of both didactic and experiential materials (Table ). Many qualitative comments from all 3 surveyed groups also supported this outcome (Tables and ).
A Summary of Preceptors and Faculty Qualitative Comments About How the Learning Bridge Process Made a Difference in the Pharmacy Education of the Pharmacy Students
A Summary of Students, Preceptors, and Faculty Comments about the Most Significant Value of the Learning Bridge Process
Seventy-six percent of students, 92% of preceptors, and 64% of faculty members agreed that the Learning Bridge assignments promoted students’ self-directed learning skills (Table ). The remaining 36% of the faculty members selected “do not know.”
The school's curriculum emphasizes the use of active-learning components during the first 2 classroom lecture years.1,8
Seventy-seven percent of students, 92% of preceptors, and 73% of faculty members agreed that the Learning Bridge assignments promoted students’ active-learning skills (Table ). All faculty members who did not agree chose “do not know” rather than disagreeing with the statement.
Ninety-two percent of preceptors and 81% of students believed that the Learning Bridge assignments promoted student critical-thinking skills. A majority of faculty members (64%) agreed with the role the Learning Bridge process played in promoting critical-thinking skills (Table ), while the rest were unable to answer.
Study Outcome 2: Facilitating Introduction of the P1 Didactic Curriculum to Preceptors
Eighty-nine percent of preceptors agreed that the Learning Bridge discussions with their student improved their awareness of the school's first-year curriculum, and several mentioned this as a significant benefit of the Learning Bridge process (Table ). We also explored whether the introduction of the curriculum afforded by the Learning Bridge process improved the preceptors’ ability to precept P1 students. Eighty-four percent of preceptors believed the Learning Bridge process improved their ability to precept P1 students as a direct result of the increased preceptor knowledge of the P1 curriculum. In addition, 69% of preceptors felt they were an active member of the school's academic community as a result of the Learning Bridge process.
Study Outcome 3: Invigorating Preceptors’ Knowledge of Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences
Eighty-eight percent of preceptors believed the Learning Bridge assignments invigorated their knowledge of biomedical and pharmaceutical sciences. In addition, 82% of preceptors agreed that they learned something from the Learning Bridge assignments that they did not know before or had long forgotten.
Study Outcome 4: Enhancing Teamwork Among Faculty Members
One hundred percent of nonpharmacist faculty members and 86% of pharmacist faculty members agreed that effective teamwork among faculty members was a major benefit of the Learning Bridge process. In addition, all nonpharmacist faculty members (100%) stated that generation of their Learning Bridge assignment was a teamwork effort in which they consulted the pharmacist faculty members in order to produce an effective Learning Bridge assignment and that consultation with pharmacist faculty members improved their understanding of how to integrate classroom learning and experiential areas into Learning Bridge assignments.
Additional Study Outcome Benefits
88% of preceptors indicated that Learning Bridge assignments were effective at assessing learning strengths and weaknesses for their students, 100% of faculty members agreed that Learning Bridge assignments assessed and promoted student learning.
Ninety-three percent of students agreed that classroom lectures/content made them confident to discuss the Learning Bridge assignments with their pharmacy team (Table ). One hundred percent of faculty members also agreed with the above statement. Ninety-two percent of preceptors agreed that their students became more confident during their conversations as a result of having the Learning Bridge assignment to discuss. Benefits of the Learning Bridge to students, preceptors, and faculty as indicated by the results of the 3 surveys are summarized in Figure .
A Summary of Unique Benefits Conferred by the Learning Bridge Process on Students, Preceptors, and Faculty Members.