Updated Guidelines for Manuscripts Describing Instructional Design and Assessment: The IDEAS Format

By Poirier, Therese; Crouch, Michael et al. | American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, June 2009 | Go to article overview

Updated Guidelines for Manuscripts Describing Instructional Design and Assessment: The IDEAS Format


Poirier, Therese, Crouch, Michael, MacKinnon, George, Mehvar, Reza, Monk-Tutor, Mary, American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education


The academic success of faculty members in higher education has been based primarily on the scholarship of research and its resultant publication. This is a rather narrow approach to faculty evaluation because other activities (practice, service, and teaching) are also required of faculty members but are not given the same emphasis in terms of faculty evaluation for promotion. In 1990, Ernest Boyer of the Carnegie Foundation published a book entitled Scholarship Reconsidered, which stimulated discussions among academicians regarding different categories of scholarship. (1) He proposed that 4 areas be applied to the evaluation of faculty members and these included the scholarship of discovery (original research), integration (linking discovery among disciplines or analytical approaches), application (translation from basic science to the clinical practice arena), and teaching. (1) Difficulties in implementing this concept have included defining the scholarship of teaching and measuring excellence in teaching. (2) Glassick proposed that measuring excellence in teaching should be similar to that for research or discovery. These standards are to have (1) clear goals, (2) adequate preparation, (3) appropriate methods, (4) significant results, (5) effective presentation, and (6) reflective critique. (3) These features should be applied to manuscripts that present curricular development or innovation. The writings of Boyer and Glassick have the underpinnings that for scholarship to be truly revered as such, the outcomes of such efforts must be peer-reviewed and publically disseminated with the intention that the scholarly efforts could be reproduced by others.

In 2004, a Task Force of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy was charged with developing guidelines for manuscripts submitted to the Journal in the category of Instructional Design and Assessment. The work of the Task Force was published in the Journal in 2004 and introduced a format for these papers (Introduction, Design, Evaluation and Assessment, and Summary) and the resulting acronym: IDEAS. (4) The creation of the IDEAS format was mainly influenced by a reported outline for curriculum development articles for the medical literature (5) and Boyer's descriptions of the scholarship of teaching. (1,3) The main premise of the IDEAS format was that articles describing the scholarship of teaching and learning (SOTL) should adhere to the same rigorous standards required of those dealing with other areas of scholarship, such as discovery, integration, and application. Thus, the goal of the IDEAS format was to identify and standardize the crucial elements required for the publication of quality SOTL studies in the Journal.

Since the publication of the IDEAS format, many SOTL articles have appeared in the Journal using the Task Force's recommendations and authors' adherence to these guidelines have increased the quality of the manuscripts/articles published in this category. However, the concept of SOTL has now become widespread enough in pharmacy education that Journal editors felt the IDEAS format should be updated to reflect a higher level of rigor, especially in the area of assessment. While the initial IDEAS format simply included a requirement for an assessment of the effectiveness of an educational strategy, the revised IDEAS format goes further, requiring authors to use an evidence-based approach to document that learners' knowledge or performance improved via appropriate assessments. (6) Therefore, the main purpose of this article is to update the original IDEAS format by providing clear guidelines and specific examples of an enhanced level of rigor that will now be expected in SOTL articles appearing in the Journal. Additionally, the suggested outline for such manuscripts has been modified to reflect the new recommendations (Appendix 1).

These guidelines apply to manuscripts that describe and evaluate instructional design and include new courses, parts of courses, integration of selected competencies across the curriculum (eg, service learning, critical thinking, communication), assessment of instructional outcomes, and the use of technologies and new delivery methods. …

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