The millennial and Z generations are breaking a lot of social and societal molds, including how they view academia and approach advancing their education. The methods they use to communicate and interact are different, and how they view the world they live in is different, than any generation that precedes them.

So how do institutions of higher education address these changing demands and deliver a better education? Connie Remsberg, Pharm.D., Ph.D., is trying to define a solution. She recently received $7,000 from Washington State University to help with the process.

The Samuel H. and Patricia W. Smith Teaching and Learning Endowment provides funding to WSU faculty to pursue innovative ideas and enhance learning and teaching at WSU. The fund was established by alumni and friends at the time of WSU President Smith’s retirement in 2000. Grants awarded from the endowment align with Smith’s passion of creating new ways to educate students. This year, seven WSU faculty received grants, including Remsberg. Each award provides the recipient with $7,000.

photo of remsbergRemsberg is a clinical assistant professor and the director for the advancement of teaching and learning excellence at the WSU College of Pharmacy. What this means is Remsberg has been designated as the go-to resource for faculty transitioning to new competency-based active-learning model that is being implemented this year as a result of the college’s extension of its Doctor of Pharmacy program in Yakima, Washington.

The program’s extension has presented a challenge to the college, namely, the coordination required between the college’s main location in Spokane and the extension in Yakima.  Ensuring consistency with material and content delivery is one of the biggest hurdles the college had to overcome, and is one of the reasons for Remsberg submitting a proposal for the grant.

“We need to ensure we are developing materials that are engaging and are at the appropriate level,” said Remsberg. “Yakima is going to be a catalyst—and an opportunity—to address how we can deliver a better education to our students.”The first cohort of WSU student pharmacists in Yakima will begin the professional program this August.

The grant will contribute to gathering formal data to address a few questions, said Remsberg. “Right now we are asking: How do we get the faculty actively prepared? What are the best methods? And, how do we best to communicate our ‘lessons learned’ to the greater WSU community/campuses?”

The College of Pharmacy began the process of improving teaching and learning within their Doctor of Pharmacy curriculum in order to provide a better education for its students, following the college’s strategic mission to develop outstanding health care professionals and scientists, and to improve human health through excellence in collaborative research and scholarship. Remsberg and her faculty colleagues are expecting that with each year, the transition to the new grading and teaching models will get easier.

“This is just one example of how we are striving to help our faculty to be the best educators possible,” said Remsberg.

[July 9, 2015] By: Lori J. Maricle