Takeaways from a New Multidisciplinary Case-Based Course

By Heather Maness
đź“… February 8, 2021
đź•‘ Read time: 3 minute(s)
Takeaways from a New Multidisciplinary Case-Based Course

Workforce number and quality were pressing concerns raised by a National Academy of Medicine workshop directed by Dr. Christopher R. Cogle, UF professor, on the use of computers to guide therapy in cancer patients. Answering that call, Dr. Cogle created a graduate course on precision oncology and reached out to the CITT for assistance with evaluating its success. Preparing future professionals for the pace of innovation was a challenge that could only be overcome by training them to work as a multidisciplinary team. As a clinical oncologist himself, Dr. Cogle assembled UF and Shands colleagues in clinical pharmacy, genetic counseling, bioinformatics, and instructional design to create and evaluate a Precision Oncology course for biomedical science and pharmacy graduate students. To gather student feedback on the collaborative, case-based learning course design, our team conducted a focus group with the small class. The findings were recently published in BMC Medical Education (IRB study #202000032) and are summarized below; hopefully, they will serve as inspiration for enhancing career preparation activities in your own courses.


Active clinical cases were selected based on students’ research interests, and the entire class worked on each case, making recommendations for real-life next steps. This was a strong pedagogical choice since Collaborative Assignments and Projects are an AAC&U High Impact Education Practice, and Universal Design for Learning Guidelines include engaging students through “relevance, value, and authenticity” of tasks. The students found this internship-like active learning approach to be highly valuable and enjoyable.

The multidisciplinary nature of the course also received strong praise from students. Participating in case discussions with experts provided insight into different professionals’ perspectives, helped clarify discipline roles, and elucidated future career paths and goals. These discussions also provided an opportunity for students to envision collaborations with these professionals in their future careers, just as we had hoped.

Areas for Improvement

The students stated that they would recommend the course to their peers, but they also had some specific feedback for improvements:

  • Provide less initial guidance during problem-solving discussions so they can brainstorm before getting expert direction
  • Include the multidisciplinary faculty team in more class meetings
  • Rearrange the room to facilitate discussion sessions (desks were front-facing for lecture-style teaching)
  • Add hands-on advanced genomic data analysis and interpretation activities, rather than only conceptual overviews
  • Give earlier access to reading assignments so they have more time to prepare for class
  • Include supplemental background materials for each discipline because some topics were brand new (optional additional material is also a UF+QM item)

Image from Vecteezy

TagsActive Learning, Collaboration, Feedback, Group Work, Professional Development, Research