Scaffolding knowledge building in a Web-based communication and cultural competence program for international medical graduates

Acad Med. 2009 Oct;84(10 Suppl):S5-8. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e3181b37b4d.


Background: Professional behaviors, tacitly understood by Canadian-trained physicians, are difficult to teach and often create practice barriers for IMGs. The purpose of this design research study was to develop a Web-based program simulating Canadian medical literacy and culture, and to evaluate strategies of scaffolding individual knowledge building.

Method: Study 1 (N = 20) examined usability and pedagogic design. Studies 2 (N = 39) and 3 (N = 33) examined case participation patterns.

Results: Model design was validated in Study 1. Studies 2 and 3 demonstrated high levels of participation, on unprompted third tries, on knowledge tests. Recursive patterns were strongest on Reflective Exercises. Five strategies scaffolded knowledge building: (1) video simulations, (2) contextualized resources, (3) concurrent feedback, (4) Reflective Exercises, and (5) commentaries prompting "reflection on reflection."

Conclusions: Scaffolded design supports complex knowledge building. These findings are concurrent with educational research on the importance of recursion and revision of knowledge for improvable and relational understanding.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Canada
  • Clinical Competence*
  • Communication*
  • Cultural Competency*
  • Curriculum*
  • Foreign Medical Graduates*
  • Internet*