Unit 1 | Module 3

Common Methods of Education Research

Welcome to module 3. Before you dive into the rest of the modules, we felt that you may want to have some basic overviews of popular methods used in health profession education. Check out this vast and growing library of methods primers that we have assembled.

Suggested Readings:

  1. Gehlbach H, Artino Jr AR, Durning SJ. AM last page: survey development guidance for medical education researchers. Academic Medicine. 2010 May 1;85(5):925. Get it Mac | See on Academic Medicine

  2. Chen HC, Teherani A. Common qualitative methodologies and research designs in health professions education. Academic Medicine. 2016 Dec 1;91(12):e5. Get it Mac | See on Academic Medicine

  3. Paradis E. The tools of the qualitative research trade. Academic Medicine. 2016 Dec 1;91(12):e17. Get it Mac | See on Academic Medicine

  4. Blanchard RD, Torbeck L, Blondeau W. AM last page: a snapshot of three common program evaluation approaches for medical education. Academic Medicine. 2013 Jan1;88(1):146. Get it Mac | See on Academic Medicine

  5. Van Melle E. Using a logic model to assist in the planning,implementation, and evaluation of educational programs. Academic Medicine. 2016 Oct 1;91(10):1464. Get it Mac | See on Academic Medicine

  6. Fischer F, Kesselheim JC. AM lage page: 23 Questions to Guide the Writing of a Quantitative Medical Education Research Proposal. Academic Medicine. 2020. In Press. Get it Mac | See on Academic Medicine


This video by Dr. Sandra Monteiro provides a basic understanding of psychometric strategies for evaluating performance to assist you in the development of a test, selecting competencies to include and the forms of information that you can reliably draw from your test.

Ethnography, Phenomenography and Phenomenology

Our second podcast by Shelley-Anne Li covers the defining features of three different qualitative research traditions.


Our first video is by Dr. Sandra Monteiro and provides an overview of considerations in experimentation and hypothesis testing.

Grounded Theory

This video by Dr. Meghan McConnell provides a broad overview of common qualitative methodologies in health professions education research and centers the discussion around Grounded Theory.

Generic Qualitative Approaches

This video by Dr. Meghan McConnell defines generic qualitative research and explores two broad genres: interpretive description and descriptive qualitative research.

Survey Design

In this module, Dr. Sandra Monteiro discusses the designing of surveys and questionnaires and best ways to use their data.

Survey Design Tips

This podcast features Dr. Anthony Artino (George Washington University) discussing the art of designing surveys and some tips that he has for doing this well.

Mixed Methods Design

This video by Dr. Meghan McConnell provides an overview of various elements of different mixed methods designs and their applications.

Focus Groups/Interviews

In this video, Dr. Meghan McConnell describes the characteristics of a research interview and provides a guide for its design, implementation and analysis.

Observational Research Methods

Dr. Meghan McConnell discusses the advantages and disadvantages of collecting and utilizing qualitative research data and a number of ways in which these methods can differ.

Introduction to Quality Improvement

This video by Dr. Allison Brown discusses the application the methodology of quality improvement and its application to health professions education programming.

Featured Education Scholars

Shelly-Anne Li is the research and quality improvement (QI) lead at the Al & Malka Green Artists' Health Centre, University Health Network. Shelly-Anne is in the final year of her PhD in Health Systems Research at the University of Toronto, and has completed her MSc in Health Research Methodology at McMaster University. She is interested in understanding how organizational contexts influence the implementation of evidence-based strategies in healthcare settings, the decision-making processes in guideline development, and medical education. She specializes in research design and methods, program evaluation, as well as implementation and knowledge translation of evidence-based practices.

Dr. Sandra Monteiro, PhD (@monteiro_meded) is a Scientist with the McMaster (Faculty of Health Sciences Program for) Education, Research, Innovation and Theory (MERIT) and the Assistant Director of Scholarship in the Centre for Simulation Based Learning. Her research program applies theories of human cognition to the development of effective health professions education and assessment.

Dr. Meghan McConnell completed her PhD in cognitive psychology at McMaster University, followed by two postdoctoral fellowships, the first at the Medical Council of Canada with an emphasis on psychometrics in high stakes examinations, and the second at the University of British Columbia with an emphasis on medical education. In 2013, she became an Assistant Professor in the Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at McMaster University. In September, 2016, Dr. McConnell joined the Faculty of Medicine at University of Ottawa, where she is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Innovations in Medical Education, with a cross-appointment to the Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine.

Allison Brown is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine and Department of Community Health Sciences. She completed a PhD in Community Health Sciences at the University of Calgary, specializing in Medical Education, and a MSc in Health Research Methods at McMaster University. Dr. Brown is a generalist, mixed methods researcher whose interests in medical education are broad and dynamic, including: quality improvement and patient safety; performance improvement; social justice and accountability; and competency-based medical education. Her biography can be found at her University of Calgary page.

Anthony R. Artino, Jr. is tenured professor and Interim Associate Dean for Evaluation and Educational Research at The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences. He received his PhD in educational psychology from the University of Connecticut and served 23 years in the U.S. Navy, retiring as Captain in 2020. Dr. Artino is a member of several editorial review boards, and he has published more than 200 scientific articles and book chapters.