Factors Influencing Clinical Faculty Participation in a Teacher Professional Development Program During a Pandemic: A Root Cause Analysis
Folk, John Joseph
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Findings from a needs assessment supported the design and creation of an online, asynchronous teacher professional development program for medical clinical faculty but low participation—due, in part, to the COVID-19 pandemic—prompted an investigation into the factors that reduced clinical faculty interest in the pilot program. A secondary purpose of this study was to identify changes that may help improve future participation while taking the short- and long-term realities of the pandemic into consideration. This study took place at a college of medicine affiliated with a large state university in the northeastern United States during the 2020–2021 school year. Participants were 16 key stakeholders at the institution: four departmental and clinical leaders, six curriculum administrators, and four clinical faculty. A qualitative phenomenological approach was used to conduct a root cause analysis by investigating how the equipment, measurement, process, people, materials, and environment domains of cause contributed to the problem of low faculty interest. Data were gathered through semi-structured individual interviews using video conferencing software. Interviews were analyzed using descriptive and pattern coding to identify themes specific to the domains of cause. The main finding was that the COVID-19 pandemic directly and indirectly influenced how faculty perceived and participated in the online program. Indirect effects include the volume of the content included in the program, the asynchronous nature of the program, the perceived value of the program, and the perceived institutional commitment to faculty development. Recommendations for practice include adding synchronous components, using root cause analyses to understand unexpected educational programmatic outcomes, aligning programming with existing intuitional faculty development, and supporting faculty development as a valued institutional activity. Recommendations for future research include evaluation of an updated pilot program, focusing on variations in participation based on faculty experience level.