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Education Research & Scholarship

Education research and scholarship icon.

Creating, mobilizing and applying knowledge across the organization and beyond.

Goal Statement: 

Education research and scholarship will be enhanced to improve learner, teacher, and patient experiences and outcomes.

2023 Success Measures:

  1. Sunnybrook will be viewed as a leader in research related to “patient as educator” by TAHSNe partners.
  2. Double the number of “patient as educator” education research publications.
  3. 5 per cent increase in the number of successful education research grants related to “patient as educator” research.
  4. 25 per cent increase in number of “patient as educator” presentations at education conferences.


In 2013, Sunnybrook established the Education Research Unit (ERU) in response to the changes across the system in the way that health education was being delivered. With its unique focus on education research across the spectrum of health providers, the ERU’s stated purpose was to provide Sunnybrook with the capacity to help frame, study, and answer practical questions about training and learning in innovative ways.

Much has been achieved since then in building capacity, creating a welcoming interprofessional space for education research and scholarship3, contributing to TAHSN-wide collaborations, and encouraging participation in education research and scholarship across all of Sunnybrook’s programs. From the grant submissions received, there is evidence of a growing interest in education research and scholarship across Sunnybrook. There is also evidence of a wide range of expertise – from novice to expert.

The recent granting of an ACMS Professorship in Education Research and the successful recruitment of the first full-time education scientist provides the opportunity for major education research and scholarship contributions in the area of engaging patients as educators and examining shifting power relations and access to knowledge and expertise. Patients will be included in ethical and equitable ways across the education research continuum (i.e., generating research ideas to implementing change) in alignment with foundational principles and best practices in patient engagement research (Forsythe et al, 2018; Harrison et al, 2019). In addition, education research and scholarship capacity will be developed more broadly through the hosting of workshops in partnership with other TAHSNe members as well as through the provision of mentorship by the new Sunnybrook education scientist and other seasoned researchers and scholars.

Consistent communication and building awareness of the ERU and education research and scholarship activities will support ongoing relationship and partnership building both locally and across the system, giving rise to an interprofessional community of practice.

Special attention will be paid to education research and scholarship within the other four strategic directions of the Education Program, fostering a culture of innovative critical inquiry to create new knowledge. In the post- COVID-19 world, speeding up the dissemination of knowledge in both traditional and non-traditional ways will be critical. Impact will be demonstrated through narrative, using a modified version of the Most Significant Change Methodology to demonstrate effectiveness beyond the traditional quantitative outcome measures (Dart and Davies, 2003).

Objectives, Tactics and Measures »

Objective 1: Foster awareness of education research and scholarship

Tactic 1: Continue to enhance awareness of the education research unit (ERU) locally and across the system.

Tactic 2: Develop a Sunnybrook interprofessional community of practice dedicated to education research and scholarship.

Tactic 3: Ethical engagement of patients in education research.

Tactic 4: Embed research and scholarship activities within each of the other four strategic directions of the Education Program.


  • Number of Sunnybrook staff and Education Research faculty members on the ERU Grid (repeat and new)
  • Number of hits to ERU web page
  • Number of education grants at Sunnybrook that include patients in various levels of engagement

Objective 2: Strengthen the provision of education research and scholarship services across Sunnybrook

Tactic 1: Working with TAHSNe partners, offer formalized training, education, and mentorship.

Tactic 2: Build inter-departmental education research collaborations within and across Sunnybrook’s campuses.

Tactic 3: Strengthen existing and create additional intraand inter-institutional linkages and partnerships, connecting education researchers and scholars.

Tactic 4: In partnership with SRI, create a research office dedicated to supporting education research and scholarship at Sunnybrook.


  • Number of education grants received with specific collaborations from different departments
  • Number of appointees on the ERU grid who are involved in inter-departmental education research
  • Number of Sunnybrook staff and faculty who apply for education research or scholarship grants

Objective 3: Implement leading edge recognition and evaluation processes

Tactic 1: Implement an evidence-based evaluation framework to demonstrate impact in such areas as patient experience, care, education, and curricula.

Tactic 2: Align education grants and awards to promote innovative and impactful knowledge translation of funded education research.


  • Number of submissions from Education Research faculty members on ERU Grid to Award for Best Narrative
  • Number of applicants for Education Research Impact Award
  • Number of education research publications by Education Research faculty members on ERU Grid 
  • Number of successful education research grants received by Education Research faculty members on ERU Grid
  • Number of presentations at education conferences by Education Research faculty members on ERU Grid


  1. Boyer EL. (1990) Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoriate. Princeton, NJ: Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
  2. Dart JJ, Davies RJ. (2003) A dialogical story-based evaluation tool: the most significant change technique. American Journal of Evaluation. 24. 137-155.
  3. Forsythe L, Heckert A, Margolis MK, Schrandt S, Frank L. (2018) Methods and impacts of engagement in research, from theory to practice and back again: early findings from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute. Qual Life Res. 27. 17-31.
  4. Harrison JD. Auerbach AD, Anderson W, Fagan M, Carnie M, Hanson C, Banta J, Symczak G, Robinson E, Schnipper J, Wong C, Weiss R. (2019) Patient stakeholder engagement in research: a narrative review to describe foundational principles and best practice activities. Health Expectations. 22. 307-316.
  5. Kahlke R and Varpio L. (2019) Positioning the Work of Health Professions Education Research and Scholarship Units: How Canadian Directors Harness Institutional Logics Within Institutional Orders to Convey Unit Legitimacy. Academic Medicine. 94(12). 1988-1994.


3Education scholarship is defined as including discovery of knowledge about education scholarship (basic research), integration of education scholarship knowledge (connections and synthesis across disciplines or contexts), application of education scholarship knowledge (to practice), and teaching (dissemination of knowledge) (Boyer, 1990).