The entire curriculum during the first three years of study is delivered through a team-based learning (TBL) format. In TBL, students come to class having gained an understanding of fundamental course concepts on their own. Class time is dedicated to assuring that students are able to apply these concepts to problems, cases, projects, and real-world situations. Students work in teams, assimilating knowledge, solving problems, and teaching one another. Their doing so is facilitated by faculty experts who are more interested in helping students gain greater depths of understanding than having them sift through a litany of facts. Lecturing, which places students in a passive mode and encourages memorization rather than learning, is avoided. This type of learning will have students more engaged, thus better enjoying their academic experience and preparing them to take on the challenges of pharmacy practice or enter post-graduate education in a multitude of settings and programs.
Our assessments are unique from most programs. Rather than assessing student learning primarily through multiple-choice examinations, assessment at CNPCOP occurs every day the class meets. Several fun acronyms aptly describe our learning and assessment process. The RATS are Readiness Assurance Tests, administered at the beginning of class (both as individual and team tests, IRATS and TRATS, respectively) measure students' understanding of fundamental course concepts and preparedness to move on to application exercises. The BATS are Individual or Team-Based Application Tasks, such as working on a problem, case study, or project. This is where the deep learning of course content occurs. The CATS are Cumulative Assessment Tests of course learning that are conducted two or three times throughout the course to review and reinforce important concepts and to further develop skills and mastery of content. The administration of milestone exams at the end of every academic year is what we refer to as GNATS, General kNowledge Assessment Tests.
This type of curriculum and teaching program are unique, and there is overwhelming evidence to support that students in this type of environment are more engaged and satisfied with their educational experience. We are on the frontier of professional education, as many other institutions will look to us as a pioneer and trend-setter for delivering this type of program.
Of course, there are many other aspects of students' educational experiences and College activities that are important. We have an extraordinary faculty performing cutting edge research and service in drug delivery systems, cancer biology, incidence of stroke reduction, diabetes care, infectious disease control, and caring for the underserved. This latter endeavor is one we warmly embrace and which underscores our vision to improve the health of peoples in California and beyond. Our students already have gained national recognition for their service to myriad populations and for their leadership in statewide and even national organizations.
This is an exciting time to be in pharmacy education, and we are delighted you that have taken enough interest in our unique organization to be on this site or already have formed a relationship with us. We look forward to working with any and all of you to move pharmacy forward in this dynamic health care environment.
Shane P. Desselle, RPh, PhD, FAPhA