Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




John Johnson


Doctors in a Northern California community reported that medical assisting students did not use medical terminology in context, could not think critically, and faltered in decision making and problem solving during their internships in medical offices. The intent of this instrumental case study was to investigate the gap between current methods of lecturing and active-learning projects designed to engage medical assisting students in learning medical terminology, forming critical thinking skills, and developing decision-making techniques. Informed by a constructivist theoretical framework, data were collected regarding the teaching methods of 4 medical instructors through interviews and classroom observations. Documentation from the doctors and nurses whom graduates served upon matriculation was also reviewed. Open coding of data resulted in emerging themes. Findings showed that instructors were unsure how to implement activities to promote critical thinking, active learning in the classroom, and decision-making skills for students. As a result of this research, a 3-day professional development workshop for college instructors was developed, focusing on critical thinking and problem-based learning activities. This study may contribute to positive social change when medical assisting students graduate with the ability to use medical terminology in context, think critically, and provide satisfactory patient care, thus bringing valued expertise to patient care and offsetting the national shortage of labor in this sphere.