Education Scholarship at DFCM

Education scholarship is about ideas. 

It’s about taking an idea about teaching and learning, something you’re curious about or even a frustration, and developing that into findings that can be shared and acted upon.

Read more about what we do and who we are:

What Is Education Scholarship?

According to the Canadian Association for Medical Education , "Education scholarship is an umbrella term which can encompass both research and innovation in health professions education. Quality in education scholarship is attained through work that is: peer-reviewed, publicly disseminated and provides a platform that others can build on." (Van Melle E, Curran V, Goldszmidt M, Lieff S, St-Onge C. Toward a common understanding: advancing education scholarship for clinical faculty in Canadian medical schools. A position paper. Ottawa: Canadian Association for Medical Education. 2012 Aug.)

Education scholarship encompasses a wide range of academic activities, as outlined by Ernest Boyer in The Scholarship of Teaching (Boyer EL. The scholarship of teaching from: Scholarship reconsidered: Priorities of the professoriate. College Teaching. 1991 Feb 1;39(1):11-3.)

1. Scholarship of teaching

Examples include developing innovative teaching tools, conceptual frameworks, faculty development programs or courses or scholarly programs.

2. Scholarship of application

Examples include making the connection between research findings and practice, or applying knowledge to contextual examples.

3. Scholarship of integration

Examples include projects that are interdisciplinary, or connect across time, or using knowledge from one field and applying it to another, or interpreting another disciplines’ research into your field and making meaning along the way.

4. Scholarship of discovery

Examples include projects that produce new knowledge, these are typically considered to be ‘research' projects.

This definition is now widely accepted across multiple academic disciplines and enables the support and recognition of a wide spectrum of scholarly educational activities.

The AAMC Educational Scholarship Guide for Faculty defines education scholarship as "any material, product or resource originally developed to fulfil a specific educational purpose that has been successfully peer-reviewed and is subsequently made public through appropriate dissemination for use by others." (Association of American Medical Colleges. Educational Scholarship Guides, 2013.)

Why Should We Engage in Education Scholarship?

DFCM is committed to it

DFCM has committed to “advance quality primary care through scholarship and innovation across all of our education endeavours” as one of its strategic priorities (DFCM Strategic Plan 2015-2020).  In addition, our department will “undertake curriculum renewal, development and delivery that is informed by education scholarship and will define and advance the role of the family physician of the future.

The Temerty Faculty of Medicine has prioritized it

The Temerty Faculty of Medicine at UofT has prioritized the informing of educational innovation and change through education scholarship (Faculty of Medicine, UofT. Fulfilling our potential: Retreat proceedings report - Integrating Education Scholarship. Apr 2014).

Our learners need it

We are responsible for providing the highest quality of Family Medicine teaching to our learners, teaching that is informed by scholarly investigation.

Our practice teams will be stronger for it

The process of education scholarship encourages collaboration and communication of educational ideas amongst colleagues.

The global Family Medicine community needs it  

“Our education scholarship advances family practice across the globe” (DFCM Strategic Plan 2015-2020).   Education scholarship enables us to advance family practice teaching internationally through dissemination of our work.

We will benefit from it, personally and professionally

Looking at our own teaching in a scholarly way can advance our skills and enrich the teacher and learner experience.

Scholarship of Teaching

Education scholarship is an approach, not a destination.

The scholarship of teaching and learning is the systematic study of teaching and learning processes. It differs from scholarly teaching in that it requires a format that will allow public sharing and the opportunity for application and evaluation by others.

What makes teaching scholarly?

In order for teaching to be considered scholarly, it needs to be

  • open to critique and evaluation (process/product is reviewed and judged to be meritorious and significant by peers)
  • in a form upon which others can build (can be replicated or elaborated)
  • significant beyond its individual context (innovative, integration, impact)

Teaching vs. scholarship

The table below from the Canadian Association for Medical Education presents a useful delineation of the differences between teaching, scholarly teaching and educational scholarship (Van Melle E, Curran V, Goldszmidt M, Lieff S, St-Onge C. Toward a common understanding: advancing education scholarship for clinical faculty in Canadian medical schools. A position paper. Ottawa: Canadian Association for Medical Education. 2012 Aug.)


Focus of activities



Continual refinement of teaching activities based on an intuitive and subconscious decision-making process.

Reflection on or examination of a specific problem in teaching practice as informed by educational theories, relevant literature and/or discussion with those knowledgeable in the field.

Research and innovation in health professions education resulting in work that is: peer-reviewed, publicly disseminated and provides a platform that others can build on.

Source of knowledge development



Drawing from personal experience.

Drawing from personal experience, educational literature and/or discussion with others in the field.

Drawing from personal experience, educational literature and engagement in educational research/development activities.

Focus of knowledge development



There is potential to improve teaching.

There is potential to improve student learning.

There is potential to advance the field.

Focus of knowledge dissemination



Primarily personal use.

Peers at the local and institutional level.

A range of educators at the provincial, national and international level.

Outcome of activities



The development of a repertoire of effective teaching algorithms and teaching strategies.

Growing sophistication and expertise in understanding teaching and learning.

Increasing growth of knowledge in the educational community.

Taking this delineation a step further, consider the questions to ask yourself when developing an educational innovation -  first through teaching activities, and then through a scholarly approach:

  • I reviewed the topic

  • I created a seminar

  • I taught the seminar

  • I got some evaluations

  • What is known? Not known?

  • What do other people do?

  • Has anyone evaluated their program? Published their findings?

  • What is my questions?

  • What is my plan (intervention, evaluation)?

  • Where will I present this work (public, peer reviewed, open to critique)?

  • Can others replicate my work? Build on it? Elaborate on it?

  • Is there significance beyond my context (innovate, integrate, impact)?

The Assessment of Scholarship

Glassick  developed six standards of excellence to ensure the quality of scholarly work. His research concluded that, for scholarship to be published or rewarded, it must have:

  • clear goals
  • adequate preparation (up to date knowledge and consultation)
  • appropriate methodology
  • meaningful results
  • effective dissemination (made public, peer reviewed)
  • reflective critique

(Glassick CE. Boyer's expanded definitions of scholarship, the standards for assessing scholarship, and the elusiveness of the scholarship of teaching. Academic Medicine. 2000 Sep 1;75(9):877-80.)

Scholarship of Discovery

The Scholarship of Discovery is work that aims to discover and create new scientific or fundamental knowledge on education. It is typically characterized by strong hypotheses and/or research questions as well as heavily informed by theory or disciplinary knowledge (e.g. psychology, sociology). Typically, well-established methodological paradigms (e.g. experiments, grounded theory) are used to explore a defined and bounded question. The purpose is typically to find mechanistic explanations or clarifications of education phenomenon. In other words, instead of describing educational innovations or evaluating them, the purpose is to clarify their working by asking 'why' and 'how' questions. The analogy to clinical research is the fundamental bench or basic science work that informs interventions at a later stage. Crucially, this research is not to be confused with program evaluation which seeks to examine whether educational interventions function using opportunistic data (e.g. test results, teaching evaluations). 

Here's an example of a scholarship of discovery study:

Kulasegaram K, Min C, Howey E, Neville A, Woods N, Dore K, Norman G. The mediating effect of context variation in mixed practice for transfer of basic science. Adv Health Sci Educ Theory Pract. 2015 Oct;20(4):953-68.

And some helpful references:

Cook DA, Bordage G, Schmidt HG. Description, justification and clarification: a framework for classifying the purposes of research in medical education. Medical education. 2008 Feb 1;42(2):128-33.

Ringsted C1, Hodges B, Scherpbier A.'The research compass': an introduction to research in medical education: AMEE Guide no. 56. Med Teach. 2011;33(9):695-709. doi: 10.3109/0142159X.2011.595436.

Meet the OES Team

Risa Bordman, MD, CCFP(PC), FCFP

Dr. Risa Bordman is an Associate Professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine. She joined the OES in 2016 as the Faculty Development Lead. She is a community-based family physician in suburban Toronto. She is Co-chair Education Committee, Division of Palliative Care, DFCM at the University of Toronto and the Residency Program Director PBSG Program for The Foundation for Medical Practice Education at McMaster University.

Rachel Ellis
Education Scholarship Coordinator

Contact Rachel Ellis if you have any questions about the Office of Education Scholarship, or need to speak with any of our team members.

Milena Forte, MD, CCFP

Dr. Milena Forte is an Assistant Professor and Clinician Educator in the Department of Family & Community Medicine and joined the OES in 2015 as the Postgraduate Education Scholarship Lead.  She is a family physician at Mount Sinai Hospital and the DFCM's Maternity Care Lead.

Risa Freeman, MD, CCFP, MEd, FCFP
Vice-Chair Education & Scholarship

Dr. Risa Freeman is an Associate Professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine, and a Clinician Educator Researcher at The Wilson Centre.  She is a staff physician at North York General Hospital. Her clinical practice is based in the community and she is a member of the active staff at North York General Hospital. She teaches at the undergraduate, graduate, postgraduate and continuing professional development levels in her clinical office and at the University of Toronto. Dr. Freeman's academic and scholarly work has focused on four main areas: medical education curricula and planning; student and faculty learning strategies; evaluation and assessment; and faculty development.

Susan Glover Takahashi, MA(Ed), PhD

Dr. Glover Takahashi has both a Masters and a Doctorate degree in Education – with a focus on curriculum planning and performance assessment. Dr. Glover Takahashi is the Director of Education, Curriculum Innovation & Research in the Postgraduate Medical Education office at the University of Toronto, providing support and oversight to curriculum development and program accreditation for almost 80 residency programs. She is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine and is also cross-appointed as an Assistant Professor in the Dalla Lana School of Public Health and the School of Graduate Studies. Her areas of research and practice include studying performance and competence in health and medical professionals; designing curriculum programs and systems to support competence; competency assessment, online learning and program evaluation.

Lindsay Herzog, MD, CCFP

Dr. Lindsay Herzog is a family physician and lecturer in the Department of Family and Community Medicine. Following completion of her family medicine residency at Mount Sinai Hospital, she became the first resident to participate in the Education Scholar Enhanced Skills Program at the DFCM. She is actively involved in teaching learners at all levels, and is presently the Associate Faculty Lead, Portfolio, in the MD Program at the University of Toronto. Her interests in medical education include fostering transformative education and critical reflection, with the ultimate goal of ensuring the provision of care that is equitable and person-centered.

Tasnia Khan, MSc
Research Officer, Education Scholarship Program

Tasnia Khan is the primary research support to education scientists and faculty at the Office of Education Scholarship. Please contact Tasnia if you have any questions about the Art of the Possible grant or need assistance finding a research assistant for your project

Kulamakan (Mahan) Kulasegaram, PhD
Director, Office of Education Scholarship

Dr. Kulasegaram's research examines educational assessment from both a psychometric and cognitive perspective. His work aims to advance assessment theory and practice by conceptualizing assessment as an instructional and advancement opportunity. This involves re-examining the entire context of assessment - the objectives, process, tools, learners, and raters - from theoretical perspectives informed by cognitive theory and best evidence on measurement. His other interest is in how assessment data can be used to inform and assist learners, teachers, and program leaders. In this area, he studies the social and scientific value of 'Big Data' in medical education.

He is an Associate Professor in the DFCM at the University of Toronto and is the Assessment Scientist in the MD Program.

Jana Lazor, BScPhm, MScPhm, EdD 

Dr. Jana Lazor is the Director of Faculty of Development, MD Program at the Temerty Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto.  She is an Associate Professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine, and holds cross appointments in the Department of Otolaryngology, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, and the School of Graduate Studies.  Jana is a pharmacist by training and has completed a Doctor of Education in Higher education, with a specialty in health care education, and a sub-specialty in patient education. 

Over the past 30 years, she has been involved in the development and implementation of health professions curricula, innovative clinical and teaching practices, and faculty development.  She has conducted education research with various areas of focus including pharmacist education, patient education, and faculty development. Her current areas of interest include: (1) the development of a new Office of Faculty Development, MD Program; (2) to explore the “practice of faculty development” during curriculum renewal; and (3) to examine how we can use blended model of learning to support new and experienced medical educators in the MD program.

Melissa Nutik, MD, CCFP, FCFP, MEd

Dr. Melissa Nutik is an Assistant Professor and Clinician Educator in the Department of Family & Community Medicine.  She joined the OES in 2013 as the Undergraduate Education Scholarship Lead.  She has been a member of the Undergraduate Education Committee of the Department of Family and Community Medicine since 2004 in a variety of different roles.  She is a staff physician at Mount Sinai hospital where she practices comprehensive family medicine and teaches learners of all levels.   Her academic interests are in the areas of clinical and communication skills, curriculum design and evaluation.

Joyce Nyhof-Young, BSc, MSc, PhD

Dr. Nyhof-Young is a social scientist with a Ph.D. in Curriculum Teaching and Learning from OISE/UT. She is a qualitative and mixed methods researcher, medical educator and a Curriculum Evaluation Coordinator in the MD Program. She is an Associate Professor of Family and Community Medicine and a lead tutor in the year two Health Sciences Research course in the MD Program.  She promotes educational scholarship in the WCH Family Practice Unit through mentorship, innovative program development and evaluation.  She also supports health in local vulnerable communities by working with health professions students and community agencies in participatory community based research. 

Betty Onyura, PhD, CE

The evaluation of educational programs and interventions is perpetually mandated across health systems. However, understanding what happens and why – and using evaluative knowledge to drive systems change – is rarely a straightforward endeavour. Dr. Onyura’s program of research empirically examines the practice of evaluation by drawing on intersecting theories of evaluation, education, and organizational behaviour. She has a particular scholarly interest in studying the paradoxical tensions that surface with innovative or reformative interventions. Further, she is interested in examining how organizations’ cultural and political environments impact the ways in which evaluation is practiced and how evaluation findings are used.

Dr. Onyura has an expanding portfolio of multi-method evaluation projects across the spectrum of medical and health professions education. She is currently the Evaluation Research Scientist at the Centre for Faculty Development (CFD) and is Assistant Professor & Evaluation Science Lead within the Office of Education Scholarship (OES) within the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Toronto. She holds a doctorate degree in Industrial Organizational Psychology and is a Credentialed Evaluator (CE) with the Canadian Evaluation Society.

Rick Penciner, MSc, MD, CCFP-EM, FCFP

Dr Rick Penciner is an Emergency Physician and the Director of Medical Education and Centre for Education at North York General Hospital in Toronto. He is an Associate Professor and the Co-lead for Faculty and Professional Development in the Division of Emergency Medicine, Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Toronto.  Rick is a graduate of the University of Toronto Medical School where he also completed his residency training, fellowship training and a Masters in Health Professions Education.  Over a span of 22 years, he has been involved as a teacher, educator and leader in the spectrum of medical education - from undergraduate, postgraduate to continuing education and professional development. 

Katherine Rouleau,


Dr. Katherine Rouleau is a family physician at St-Michael's Hospital in Toronto and Director of the Global Health Program in the Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of Toronto. Her clinical and academic interests include primary care in the global health context, global health education, the scholarship-leadership continuum, the care of marginalized populations and global health education scholarship. Dr. Rouleau also holds a position as Director of the Besrour Centre of the College of Family Physicians of Canada.

Warren Rubenstein, MD, FCFP

Warren Rubenstein is a family physician and associate professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Toronto. He is the senior author of Medical Teaching in Ambulatory Care, a leading faculty development text for teaching in the office setting. It was first published in 1993. Now in its third edition, it is also available in French, Spanish and Portuguese. He has presented workshops internationally on faculty development in teaching. Over his career, he has spent sabbatical time in the medicine scholarship centres of the Royal College of General Practitioners of Australia, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, the University of Utrecht, and Universitas Gadjah Mada in Indonesia. His scholarly interests include competency-based medical education, entrustment scales for evaluation of learners and innovative curriculum development.

Cynthia Whitehead, MD, CCFP, FCFP, PhD

Dr. Cynthia Whitehead is an Associate Professor and the former Vice-Chair, Education in the Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of Toronto and an Education Scientist at the Wilson Centre. She is currently the Vice-President, Education at Women's College Hospital and Director of the Wilson Centre. She completed a Master’s in Health Professions Teaching and Education in 2008 and a PhD in 2011. In addition to her clinical work as an academic family physician, she is involved in teaching, curriculum design, faculty development and health professions education research. Her research focuses on critical discourse analysis of various aspects of health professions education. Some particular areas of interest include primary care education, outcomes-based education, interprofessional education and the history of medical education.

Nicole Woods, PhD

Dr. Nikki Woods is Director of The Centre for Ambulatory Care Education (CACE), at Women’s College Hospital. Dr. Woods joined the University of Toronto in 2006 and leads a successful program of research in health professions education. A cognitive psychologist by training, her work focuses on the role of biomedical knowledge in clinical reasoning and the value of basic science training in the development of medical expertise. Dr. Woods is currently Associate Professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine and an Education Scientist at the Wilson Centre, Temerty Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto at University Health Network.

Sarah Wright, PhD

Dr. Sarah Wright is a Research Scientist at Michael Garron Hospital, Toronto East Health Network, an Education Scientist at the Centre for Ambulatory Care Education at Women’s College Hospital and an Assistant Professor at the Department of Family and Community Medicine.  Sarah’s primary responsibility is to develop a research program, which entails conducting research, securing funding, presenting at scientific meetings and publishing in peer reviewed journals. The rest of her time is devoted to academic citizenship, consultation, supervision and teaching.

Sarah critically examines constructions of ‘assessment quality,’ including psychometric properties such as reliability and validity, and how they intersect with emerging frameworks that emphasize equity and diversity. Using mixed methodologies and drawing upon sociological theories, she studies the reproduction of problematic hierarchies through assessment and admissions practices. She is particularly interested in the effects of the hidden curriculum of assessment on students’ capacity to succeed and develop professional identities.  Sarah’s ultimate aim is to foster assessment practice that supports the development of physicians who are able to meet the complex needs of today’s patients.