The learning model underlying the Executive MHA is an application of the following principles, most of which derive from the Minnesota MHA programs’ 40 years of experience in adult learning in healthcare administration:
- Healthcare professionals develop personal resilience in part through continual learning. That resilience is essential both to their continuing personal development in a rapidly changing environment and to their ability to contribute to and lead the organizations in which they work and practice.
- Lifelong learning is essential to success as a professional. Increasing self-development of professionals includes both structured learning opportunities and a readiness to learn from everyday practice. A program of professional learning must both provide those structured learning opportunities and enhance the professional’s readiness to learn from her/his practice.
- Because a key to adult learning is discovering the personal meaning of ideas, opportunities for applying learning to one’s experience must be meaningful, varied and frequent. Learning shared with a diverse cohort of fellow students enhances the discovery process.
- Learning is idiosyncratic and occurs in many ways. It is most often deductive, moving from general principles to specific examples, but adults learn inductively as well, combining personal experiences into principles. Experience in transferring learning from one situation to others encourages inductive learning.
- While learning is unique to each person, both the learner and the teacher need consistent methods of reviewing and improving learning outcomes. Both faculty and peer judgments address this need.
- Because learning proceeds from levels of understanding already achieved to some new point of development, adult learning opportunities must anticipate the range of experiences which learners bring to their education and provide flexible means of learning that serve students at all levels of experience.
- When the learning experience is well structured, adults can learn as much from each other as they do from formal instruction. Effective group work, diversity of perspective among both students and faculty, structured and unstructured opportunities for meaningful interaction among students, and a cohort culture that actively encourages supportive relationships among students are critical elements of the learning model.
- Learning is enhanced when students enter the program in a cohort and proceed through the program together, growing in their abilities to communicate with, learn from and support each other. However, because experienced adults must deal with changes in their employment, their families and other aspects of their lives, the program must accommodate students who temporarily drop out of the program and re-enter at a later time.
- The quality of the faculty, curriculum, instruction and students of the Executive MHA must be the equivalent of those of the Full Time MHA Program. Similarly, admission standards and student performance expectations must be at the same level as those of the Full Time MHA Program.
- Because it enhances access and provides flexibility in scheduling, online coursework is essential to efficient learning for employed adults. By itself however, online learning can meet only a portion of the learning interests of employed adults. It must be supplemented with face-to-face learning and with extensive peer and group learning.
Learning in the Executive MHA is supported by several factors, including the following:
- Blended approach. During on-campus sessions, students are enrolled in one course that is taught in the classroom. Other courses are taught online over the course of the program, but are introduced in live classroom presentations during the on-campus sessions.
- Asynchronous online coursework. Online courses are designed to be accessed at the convenience of the student, within the demands of the course schedule. Using the Moodle course technology and supporting software, lectures, readings, individual and group assignments are available to students when they have the time to engage them. Courses generally operate on schedules that require students to complete modules every week or every two weeks. Because group work is asynchronous, all group members do not have to be available at the same time.
- Cohort learning. Since the full-time MHA program began in 1946, cohort learning has been central to its success. Each annual class develops a character of its own and each class fosters a sense of identity among its members. The Executive MHA program continues and expands that tradition. Students in each cohort start the program together and progress through the same curriculum as a group. Cohort learning builds on adult education principles by supporting students’ discovery of the personal meaning of ideas and developing a sense of community in addressing and solving a common set of problems. Well-structured cohort learning provides opportunities for adults to learn as much from each other as they do from formal instruction, as well as myriad opportunities for students to support each others’ learning.
- Student support. Students are supported by their peers in the cohort and by the faculty and staff of their program. All efforts will be made to keep students engaged in the program. However, when a student falls behind their cohort, she/he will be asked to cease participation in the program and then be reassigned to a following cohort.
- Online learning preparation. All students are required to take a one-week preparatory course prior to the first on-campus session. The course familiarizes students with the learning technology, orients students to University library resources and other learning assets, and introduces students in the cohort to one another.
- Application of learning to the student’s organization. Course assignments often ask students to apply the learning to their own organizations. This application, and the subsequent discussion of the applications across the members of the cohort or work group greatly expands the students’ learning.
- Innovation leadership projects. Working with faculty and advisors, students in the Executive MHA design and conduct a project to introduce an innovation into their organization. The project provides the opportunity for students to bring together many aspects of their learning into an innovation of significant value.
- Alumni involvement. MHA alumni have played a key role in the education of students since the 1940s. Because University of Minnesota MHA alumni occupy positions of authority in a wide variety of healthcare organizations throughout the world, their involvement in students’ learning is a real advantage. Alumni play important roles in on-campus sessions, speaking on panels, teaching in courses and reviewing student projects.