Exploring talent development environments –inspirations to medical education at doctoral level

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Doctoral students may be considered some of our most talented students. In order to maintain high quality in doctoral education we should be aware of optimizing the talent development environment in which the students develop their competencies. In this paper we explore the features of a successful talent development environment in Danish doctoral education. Talent development is an extensive and well-established research field. So far, research within this field has mainly focused on sport and other artistic professions and to a minor degree on academic performance. In addition, the focus has been on cognitive skills of individual talents and to a minor degree on institutional conditions and constraints within talent development environments. However, recent studies on talent development in sport recognize ‘talent’ as a social construction (1) and institutional and environmental features playing a decisive role in talent development (2). Our research question is: do concepts and models for talent development environments in sport apply to medical education at doctoral level? Considering the uniqueness of the two domains (they refer to different overall social fields: education and sport), we presume that they are comparable because they may share some characteristics of successful talent development environments.
Based on an ecological approach to talent development environments (3) we carried out a pilot case study including field work (10 days of observation) and qualitative interviews with 6 participants (4 doctoral students and 2 supervisors). The case study took place at The Department of Hepatology and Gastroenterology, Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark from December
2012-March 2013. In the analysis of data we use Schein’s theory of organizational culture (4) and suggest that a thorough understanding of talent development environments include analysis of the context-specific culture and its effect on the dispositions and behaviours of the talents.
The preliminary results reveals that the talent development environment in this case study and those in sport share a number of common features: an elitist
spirit as a way of ascribing meaning to principal activities, a working milieu characterized by continual high-performance achievements, training groups with
supportive relationships, and a strong and coherent organization culture.
Discussion and Conclusion:
This is the first study in Denmark to explore doctoral students’ working
environments as talent development environments. The results suggest practical implications for fostering and culturing talent development environments in medical education at doctoral level.
(1) Christensen MK. "An Eye for Talent": Talent Identification and the "Practical Sense" of Top-Level Soccer Coaches. Sociology of Sport Journal 2009, Sep;26(3):365-82.
(2) Barab SA, Plucker JA. Smart people or smart contexts? Cognition, ability, and talent development in an age of situated approaches to knowing and learning. Educational Psychologist 2002;37(3):165-82.
(3) Henriksen K. The Ecology of Talent Development in Sport: A Multiple Case Study of Successful Athletic Talent Development Environments in Scandinavia. Odense: Syddansk Universitet / University of Southern Denmark; 2010.
(4) Schein EH. Organizational culture. American Psychologist 1990;45(2):109-19.
Udgivelsesår26 aug. 2013
StatusUdgivet - 26 aug. 2013
BegivenhedAMEE 2013 - Association of Medical Education Europe Conference: Colouring Outside The Lines - Prag, Tjekkiet
Varighed: 25 aug. 201328 aug. 2013
Konferencens nummer: 40


KonferenceAMEE 2013 - Association of Medical Education Europe Conference


  • Talent development environments, Doctoral education

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