The educational model of the HPTM program at UTMB emphasizes the development of the competencies of translational scientists in addition to the acquisition of content knowledge (click here to see a partial curricular map). A competency is the integration of knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary for a successful professional practice. We defined 25 areas of competency in seven different categories (professionalism, communication/collaboration, research skills, management, teaching, external services, and content knowledge).
In order to guide the planning of activities and evaluations, we defined and made explicit what translational biomedical scientists do in their professional practice (known as authentic performances). This is a very important concept because, based on findings of educational research and adult learning theories, engagement in authentic work experience produces the best educational results. To attain those defined authentic performances (which reflect attainment of competency), we have delineated objectives that build professional authenticity by beginning with the knowledge sphere but always moving towards more sophisticated objectives as depicted in the diagram below.
Our educational approach shifts the focus from knowledge transfer to the learning process. The high level of specification of the HPTM curriculum, particularly in the implementation of opportunities to develop relevant competencies, allows for a sophisticated evaluation system that goes beyond the assessment of content learning and that includes formative aspects.
The learning sessions of the HPTM program are based on learning opportunities that have internal value, real-life application, and correspondence with authentic scientific practices. The general methodology involves guided inquiry processes. Those methods were selected because they recapitulate and model the scientific method. Thus, the teaching methodology promotes creative problem solving, analytical thinking, active learning, skills for life-long autonomous learning, and cooperative group interactions.