Making Pedagogy Palatable: Could Book Clubs Help?

By: Nathan Doctor, PharmD and Kimberly G. Elder, PharmD, BCPS

Teaching and learning curriculum (TLC) programs, typically run by schools or colleges of pharmacy, provide longitudinal opportunities for residents to gain knowledge and skills related to teaching.1 Commonly, opportunities are a mix of experiential (e.g., teaching a lecture) and didactic (e.g., seminars on teaching), most delivered through seminars and workshops.2 Another method of delivery, not explicitly mentioned in the literature, is book clubs.

Book Clubs in Pharmacy Education

Within pharmacy, book clubs have been used to facilitate professional development in students and faculty and to teach topics such as research ethics, chronic disease, health disparities, and the patient experience.3,4 These book clubs have successfully achieved their desired learning outcomes. Though not yet described in the literature, using book clubs in TLCs could effectively deliver didactic instruction while following the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy recommendations to deliver content through different teaching styles.1

Past Experience at Sullivan University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (SU COPHS)

SU COPHS implemented a book club in 2015, followed by a scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) reading group in 2018. Book club participants read and discussed a preselected book on topics such as leadership, management, wellbeing, healthcare, or educational pedagogy; the SoTL reading group focused on one to three articles related to SoTL topics.  Both programs were voluntary for faculty and staff and occurred roughly four times per year.  Participation was good, and both experiences seemed like beneficial learning opportunities for postgraduate learners. SU COPHS runs a TLC, which educates 30-35 participants annually. Starting in the 2019-2020 academic year, TLC participants were required to attend either a SU COPHS SoTL reading group or a book club.  This requirement continued for three years and was met with general positivity.  However, due to time constraints and competing demands as determined by an informal survey of faculty and staff, participation by faculty and staff dwindled over time.  Therefore, many sessions included only TLC participants (mostly PGY1 residents) and one faculty facilitator. Gone was the sharing of information from faculty to TLC participants.

The requirement was reconsidered by the TLC program coordinator and the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Assessment. We examined our TLC program goals and readdressed how a book club or SoTL reading group helped achieve them. Our goal most closely related to this experience states participants will actively participate “in pedagogy seminars that provide baseline knowledge to prepare the participant for teaching experiences…” As the book club and SoTL reading group topics vary yearly, we cannot guarantee this goal will be met. We changed the requirement for the 2022-2023 academic year.

Our New Plan

Starting in the 2022-2023 academic year, participants (n=33) will choose from one of three books to read. The TLC Program Coordinator chose these due to their focus on evidence-based teaching strategies and alignment with the TLC program goals. Though not an exhaustive list, these books are popular in educational circles and are relatively short and interesting reads for novice educators. Books include:

TLC participants will read their chosen book in the first six months of the program. Toward the end of the year, they will choose one technique from their book and an article illustrating the use of that technique (healthcare education literature preferred) and present it to fellow TLC participants and program mentors (mostly faculty members). These will be completed in six concurrent groups of five to six participants. Presentations will be 10 minutes long, with five minutes allotted for questions. Participants will also complete a pre-post survey measuring their knowledge of learning strategies and confidence in utilizing them. Pre-book club results are summarized below.

We anticipate our new book club format will help our TLC participants learn more about teaching pedagogy in an interesting and more streamlined way. By sharing our story, we hope to inspire other educators and TLC coordinators to think outside the box to deliver content effectively and efficiently.

Have you tried anything like this with your TLC program?  How did it work?

Acknowledgments: The authors acknowledge Kimberly K. Daugherty, PharmD, PhD, BCPS, who contributed to this post.


  1. Wright EA, Brown B, Gettig J, et al. Teaching and learning curriculum programs: recommendations for postgraduate pharmacy experiences in education. Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2014;71(15):1292-1302. doi:10.2146/ajhp130657
  2. Strang AF, Baia P. An Investigation of Teaching and Learning Programs in Pharmacy Education. Am J Pharm Educ. 2016;80(4):59. doi:10.5688/ajpe80459
  3. Jones EP, Nelson NR, Thorpe CT, Rodgers PT, Carlson RB. Use of journal clubs and book clubs in pharmacy education: A scoping review. Curr Pharm Teach Learn. 2022;14(1):110-119. doi:10.1016/j.cptl.2021.11.029
  4. Zagar M, Sampognaro L, Robertson C, Craft G. A description and opinions of a longitudinal book club for comprehensive pharmacy faculty development. Curr Pharm Teach Learn. 2019;11(9):909-914. doi:10.1016/j.cptl.2019.05.005

Author Bio(s):

Nathan Doctor is an Academic Fellow at Sullivan University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in Louisville, Kentucky. His educational scholarship interests include professional identity formation and metacognition. In his free time, Nathan enjoys playing video games and trying new foods and cuisines.

Kimberly Elder is an Associate Professor in the Pharmacy Practice Department at Sullivan University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in Louisville, Kentucky.  Her educational scholarship interests include academic electronic health record implementation and work-life integration.  In her free time, she enjoys reading, running, and spending time with family and friends.

Pulses is a scholarly blog supported by Currents in Pharmacy Teaching and Learning

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