Drs. Bell and Ader Receive 2021 Apgar Education Research Grant

June 10, 2021
photo of Dr. Michelle Bell
Dr. Michelle Bell

Dr. Michelle Bell, assistant professor of Neurology in the Division of Epilepsy and Sleep, has been awarded a 2021 Education Research Grant from the Virginia Apgar Academy of Medical Educators of the Vagelos College of Physicians & Surgeons (VP&S), together with co-investigator Dr. Jeremy Ader, a third-year resident in the Department of Neurology Adult Residency Program, directed by Dr. Bell. These grants are awarded to a select group of VP&S faculty members to fund projects that seek to implement new ways of teaching the complex skill set necessary to advance health care.

With this research funding, Drs. Bell and Ader will conduct a feasibility study titled, Intervention to capture the diagnostic potential of individuals in a group-based learning or clinical environment. "Each individual on a team brings their own unique background, experiences and ways of thinking, and expands the knowledge base that the team can use to make decisions," explains Dr. Ader. "But are teams on clinical rounds, or in group-based learning settings, capturing the decision-making potential of each individual? Or are we biased by the first person to speak? We are excited to examine this question, and to test an intervention to address it."

photo of Dr. Jeremy Ader
Dr. Jeremy Ader

According to a member of the selection committee, "This is an innovative, focused project that seems perfectly suited to an Apgar educational grant. The investigators plan to explore the intriguing pedagogical question of whether group-based learning paradigms optimally capture the diagnostic potential of individual members and/or of the group as a whole. Furthermore, their study prompts us to consider whether the hallowed method of "teaching rounds" might actually introduce problematic cognitive biases." 

This proposal by Drs. Bell and Ader will involve interdisciplinary collaboration with Professors Modupe Akinola and Adam Galinsky in the Columbia Business School. The potential impact of this project is substantial. As another committee member explains, "while it is very likely that cognitive bias exists in all of our work, if we could alter our training to help combat it, this could be very useful as a teaching tool for the wider medical education field."