The medical education environment offers a variety of opportunities for dialogue education learning tasks.  Dialogue education is an intentional design framework that fosters communication, reflection, and community in the learning environment.   Using this framework, educators can structure dialogue with students through learning experiences or “tasks” designed to assess prior knowledge, introduce new content, give learners a chance to practice, and thenhelp them integrate the new knowledge or skill (Vella, 2000).   Jane Vella’s concept of learning task design includes what she refers to as the 4 I’s: 

Inductive—connect learners to what they already know
   An Inductive learning task helps the learner create a point of reference for the concept:  “Tell me what
   you know about cardiovascular disease risk factors?”

Input—course content, new material
   Input tasks can be a mini-lecture, demonstration, video, or presentation done to introduce new content.

Implementation—try it out!
   Implementation tasks ask learners to do something directly with the new content:  “After viewing this    
   video clip, what stands out for you about this patient’s description of __(medical topic)__?

Integration—asks learners how they will integrate new learning into their developing knowledge of medicine and medical practice
  Integration tasks happen at the end of the learning encounter and give the learner an opportunity to  
  organize new knowledge into the prior knowledge base:  “Now that you have learned about __(medical
  topic)__, what are the implications of this for what you already know about cardiovascular disease risk
  factors?” (Vella, 2008)

In what ways do you structure dialogue using learning tasks?  Share your ideas at #MedEdPearls.


To find out more, check out the following resources:

Vella, J.K. (2000).  Taking Learning to Task:  Creative strategies for Teaching Adults.  Ann Arbor: Wiley.

Vella, J. K. (2008). On teaching and learning: Putting the principles and practices of dialogue education into action. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.


Special thanks to Dr. Terry Carter, Professor and Associate Dean for Professional Instruction and Faculty Development at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, for her contribution to this topic!


Jean M. Bailey, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor/Assistant Dean of Faculty Development
McGlothlin Medical Education Center
Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine


#MedEdPearls Team:
Jean Bailey, PhD – Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine
Carrie Bowler, EdD, MS, MLSCM (ASCP) – Mayo Clinic
Kristina Dzara, PhD, MMSc (Educators ’16; Assessment ’16; HCE 2.0 ’17) – Saint Louis University School of Medicine
Shanu Gupta, MD – University of South Florida and Tampa General Hospital
Jennifer Hillyer, PhD – Northeast Ohio Medical University College of Medicine
Larry Hurtubise, PhD (HCE 2.0 '16) – The Ohio State University
Anna Lama, EdD – West Virginia University School of Medicine
Machelle Linsenmeyer, EdD, NAOME (Assessment ’07) – West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine
Rachel Moquin, EdD, MA – Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis
Stacey Pylman, PhD – Michigan State University College of Human Medicine
Leah Sheridan, PhD – The Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine
Lonika Sood, MBBS, MHPE – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine, Washington State University
Mark Terrell, EdD – Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine
Stacey Wahl, PhD – Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine