In the study, faculty members from different faculties include dentistry (n=8), public health (n=2), medicine (n=1), pharmacy (n=2), nursing and midwifery (n=2). 10 women (66.66%) and 5 men (33.33%) were included in the study. Average working experience of participants was 8 years (4). The academic degree of participants consist of preceptor (n=2), assistance professor (n=11) and associate professor (n=2). 15 educational scholarship projects developed by faculty members in the student assessment (n=9), teaching and learning (n=3), curriculum development (n=3) domains.
The results showed the satisfaction score of participants was 4.8(0.14). The experience of participants in ESP was divided into four main categories including, motivator for change, experiential learning practice, change leadership capabilities, and executive difficulties (Table1).
A- Motivator for change
In the main category, the two preceding factors for participating in the ESP were determined as "understanding the need for change" and "recognizing personal limitations".
A.1- Understanding the need for change
The category addressed the factors encouraging participants to achieve the ability to improve the quality of education. Understanding need to improve the quality of teaching and learning process motivated participants for attending ESP. a participant stated:
"I wanted to impart what my duty defined but I didn't know how to do it for long time. I implemented it by trial and error. I heard about education through slides, patients and simulated patients. But I didn't know anything about their principles." (Female-35-year-old)
A.2- Recognizing personal limitations
Personal and professional limitations as a motivator factor were explained in this category. Participants acknowledged that lack of familiarity with the educational concepts and principles led them to understand the need of learning about education principals in medical science system even after several years. A participant stated:
"I did not have any training about educational principals, no one had offered it to me, and I had not gone to any class. Just because I had a board certificate, I became a faculty member and a teacher. I did not know anything about teaching and education. I understand my defects and have a plan for learning and experiencing the new methods (Female -38 years old).
B- Experiential learning practice
In this category, experiences of participants about the educational process in ESP were explained. The main category consisted of categories, "Reflective Collaborative Learning" and "Project-Based Learning".
B.1- Reflective Collaborative Learning
The category refers to participants’ experiences about the instruction process in ESP. Adherence to the principles of collaborative learning, and reflection in learning process have been emphasized as fundamental principles in the ESP. Learning in small group settings, problem centeredness and directing group activities for learning during ESP were considered by the participants. A participant acknowledged:
"Actually, I had taken a series of notes in previous empowerment workshops and have a file full of these papers that I had taken and forgotten. This was the first time I attended in a course that I had to do assignments. I would discuss the experienced problems with our classmates and pursue them based on the solution. The interesting thing was that I talked a lot, we constantly discussed them with each other in order to resolve the problems or questions. The process was not boring at all." (Female - 38 years old)
Creating an opportunity for reflection on experiences and duty in the teaching and scholarship phases was emphasized in this study. Concepts of reflection in-action and on-action were considered in the scholarly courses. A participant stated:
Once, a participant in basic sciences analyzed the challenges of her lesson and suggested a solution for it. I had not thought about the challenges before that, but after the interdisciplinary discussion, I thought about my class. I was motivated for changing the teaching method in my class. Interdisciplinary situations could awaken and direct my mind. My mind suddenly cleared and was activated in ESP. I could find solutions for problems that I realized. In addition, I thought about subjects that had not already been considered. (Female -30-years old)
B.2- Project-based learning
In this category, the experiences of participants about opportunities for learning based on the application of knowledge, practical learning in team and project implementation was independently explored. The learning process prepared participants to collaborate in interdisciplinary teams for designing and implementing a scholar project. Participants attained knowledge related to education, scholarship and apply what was taught in the training phase. During the scholarship phase, the opportunity is provided to undertake the design, implementation and evaluation of a scholar project. Participants believed the creation of opportunities to exchange experiences in interdisciplinary teams had an effect on improving the outcome of scholarship phase. Practical learning experiences, application of theory, interdisciplinary interactions, and supportive counseling were explored as effective factors for enhancing scholar competencies.
Participants believed that the scholarship phase provided an opportunity to apply their knowledge that helped them to have deep learning. In this regard, a participant suggested:
“I experienced scholarship phase as a job market in my specialty field. I spent six years in dentistry. After, I had entered the clinic I found what I needed to learn to succeed in the practice. The implementation of a scholar project helps me to learn better through practical learning”. (Female - 41-years old).
The learners' experiences related to interdisciplinary collaboration and interaction for learning practically and conducting a scholar project in a team was explored. A participant suggested:
“Whenever, the facilitator or other participants raised their issues and problems, I would remember what I had experienced. The small group discussion provided the situation where experiences of participants in different disciplines were exchanged. In the interdisciplinary group, we discussed about the educational problems and their solutions. We came up with a list of solutions and wrote a good project according to them” (Female - 37 years old).
C- Change leadership capabilities
In this category, the experienced outcomes of ESP such as the improvement of educational knowledge and skills, the ability of critical appraisal and ability to lead change and conduct a SoTL project through collaborating in a team were addressed. The experiences of participants were categorized as follows: achieving capability to change, and encouraging elements for change.
C.1- Achieving Capability to Change
In the category, the learners' experiences about the acquired abilities were explained. Participants believed that ESP helped them to become familiar with educational concepts and principles and to gain the ability to design and implement an educational scholar process. Participants acknowledged their self-efficacy to carry out SoTL project improved. A participant stated:
"I already knew that my teaching method had to change, I changed my teaching method based on my experiences, but we did not know what the right thing was and what the principals were. Now, I know what the right way is. I can even tell our colleagues what to do for the students based on the principals". (Female - 38 years old).
Developing sensitivity to learning problems and the challenges, recognizing the methods to find solution, achieving critical appraisal ability and comprehensive view to their educational process were described as the capabilities that participants acknowledged they needed to attain. A participant stated:
"ESP helped me get a comprehensive view of the educational process included planning, teaching and evaluation methods. I critically reviewed my educational process. I recognized planning needed to change in my teaching. Now, if I want to teach, first, I look at what the contents are and how they must be taught. I stopped making PowerPoint and giving lectures because I found another way of teaching." (Female - 32 years old).
C.2- Encouraging Elements for Change
This category explained outcomes such as receiving positive feedback, generating student satisfaction, and understanding the ability to change in teaching and learning process were perceived as progressive factors. A participant believed:
"The important thing for me is that the students said, “your new method encourages us to learn us learn deeply”. The method motivated my students, as well as being a motivating force for me. When I asked for feedback from the students, I found they were very satisfied. They told me, “The method was very good, we would like to continue this method in other courses”. I witnessed the performance of students improved and it motivated me. I anticipate using the method in my internship courses in future." (Female-32-year-old).
Another point taken into consideration in this category is forming the motivation for change among colleagues and peers in the faculty and the teaching team. In this category, participants' experiences about collaborating with others and forming a team for conducting a scholarship program at college and university are explained. In this regard, a participant stated:
"I felt compelled to accompany my coworkers in the department. Therefore, I explained my scholar project in meetings. I talked to my collages about new methods in assessment such as DOPS. I planned to review checklist and materials with my coworkers. All of them asked, what this is and what are we doing?. It was very interesting to me that they were commenting on how to improve the work. They inquired about the evaluation method. After a while, they would come and want to get involved in the scholarship process. (Female-36-year-old).
D- Executive difficulties
The main category addressed executive challenges in scholarship process. Participants described the factors such as the atmosphere of resistance for change among colleges and educational system, the lack of human resources and equipment to implement scholarship projects, and the administrative challenges to implementing new approaches and methods explored as executive difficulties in educational scholarship process.
D.1 - Resistance to change
The creation of atmosphere resistant to change and human resistance was defined as the executive challenges of scholarship projects. Participants believed that by presenting scholarly suggestions for improving the quality of education, they were mostly faced with resistance that posed a serious obstacle to implementation of scholar project. A participant stated:
“I think one thing that is very important to conduct a scholar project is providing strong support. Whenever I want a good idea to come out of the thinking stage and into implementation, I experienced so much pressure that sometimes my hopes turned to despair. In my opinion, the biggest problem about conducting an educational scholarly project is the futile pressures that often distract me from the mainstream. (Female-41-year-old).
D.2- Insufficiency of Resources
This study addresses the challenges about human resources, financial resources, and equipment associated with the implementation of scholarship projects. Participants believed that although they understood the need for change and were highly motivated to address it, barriers related to human and physical resources and educational equipment prevented the effective implementation of educational scholarship project. In addition, some participants said that the challenges of physical resources and related equipment have made the scholar program unfeasible. A participant stated:
In my need assessment, student assessment was identified as a main problem of our faculty. I want to change the assessment system at the college, I understood the lack of infrastructure at the college was a big problem. For example, we did not have the space and equipment for the OSCE, we did not have enough simulation equipment, and we did not have enough microscopes for exams in our school. Even, we did not have enough computers to run electronic tests. We want to solve a problem, but we do not have any infrastructure and faced lot of challenges. (Female 34- year-old).