Assuring Graduates Can Collaborate: Is it Time to Rewrite the Health Professions’ Signature Pedagogies?

Thursday, October 1, 2020, 2:15 pm - 3:15 pm EDT

This seminar will explore how signature pedagogies of health professions education shape learning and potentially interfere when learning interprofessional collaborative practice skills. Through interactive dialogue, we will stimulate a knowledge community committed to developing a new signature pedagogy for interprofessional education (IPE).


Participants will:

1. Explore a professional signature pedagogy through the lens of teaching-learning strategies for person-centered care and teamwork.

2. Propose important elements of an interprofessional signature pedagogy.

3. Compare and contrast existing with an idealized signature pedagogy IPE.


Signature pedagogy is the form of teaching that characterizes a specific area of study.1,2,3 Individual profession signature pedagogies include ward rounds for medicine,4 coaching for nursing,5 Socratic questioning in law,6 the human body as teacher for physical therapy,7,8,9,10 and the learning contract for social work.11


The signature pedagogy of each profession is rarely interprofessional and students typically develop a professional identity separate from that of other professions. Meanwhile, interprofessional educators attempt to work across boundaries to teach collaborative practice competencies. Often cross-profession discussions such as these reveal striking differences in assumptions, priorities, power, traditions, and beliefs about what constitutes good pedagogy and appropriate learning outcomes, as well as the anticipated benefits of collaborative interprofessional practice.


Despite significant forward movement to define expectations for IPE, we lack a clearly articulated, agreed upon conceptual model to ground pedagogies of interprofessional collaboration.12,13


Relationship to Theme

A better understanding of a signature pedagogy for interprofessional education could integrate with profession-specific education to help build a dual professional identity as both a skilled professional and an interprofessional collaborator.14 Ultimately this would strengthen and shape all aspects of the clinical learning environment and move the construct of person-centered collaborative care forward.


Learning Strategies

Following a brief overview of signature pedagogies, participants will move into facilitated small groups using Zoom break out rooms. Panelists will guide participants through a fishbowl session, looking at one profession and a discussion of the layers of signature pedagogy potentially present, underlying assumptions and values related to patient-centered care and teamwork. Following this, participants will explore the application of signature pedagogy structures (surface, deep, and implicit) to interprofessional learning about patient-centered care and teamwork, focusing on how assumptions and beliefs would shift from a professional to interprofessional signature. A designated scribe will summarize main points via screen sharing.


Participants will then return to the larger group to consider how an agreed upon signature pedagogy in IPE would strengthen and shape the learning environment and move the constructs of person-centered care and teamwork forward.



Participants will use Mentimeter (or preferred real-time input program) to record their understanding of the concept of signature pedagogy at session start and afterward to describe how the session helped them to understand it and recognize surface, deep and implicit structures in IPE. Participants will use the Zoom chat feature to share insights and reflect on important points gained from the session.



Welcome / Introductions

Overview: Signature pedagogy

Small group break outs (facilitated discussion)

Large group report back

Online form activity

Chat Summary