Meet Frank Papa
Associate Dean Curricular Design and Faculty Development Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine
Frank Papa, DO, PhD, is the associate dean for Instructional Design and Faculty Development at the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine (TCOM).
Dr. Papa currently directs TCOM’s new Academy of Medical Educators (AME); a group of approximately 50 faculty members dedicated to improving their knowledge and skills as educators. The objectives of the AME are to support faculty: 1) Implement TCOM’s Problem- and Task-focused, Application-oriented Curriculum (PTAC) – a learning sciences-based approach to educating 21st century medical students, 2) Acquire declarative knowledge and develop procedural knowledge sufficient to advance career as a formally trained, clinician/educator or scientist/educator, and 3) Develop education-oriented research and scholarly capabilities.
Four years after graduating from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine in 1975, Dr. Papa took accepted his first academic position at the Health Science Center as an Assistant Professor in Emergency Medicine. Following his board certification in Emergency Medicine in 1982, he served as the Director of UNTHSC’s Division of Emergency Medicine.
Dr. Papa’s research interest in education began very shortly after joining UNTHSC’s faculty when a student asked him to explain, step by step, how he was using each piece of patient data (one sign/symptom at a time) to arrive at a diagnosis. It was not until several years later before he realized that he was asked to explain how he was ‘processing information’. While unable to provide the student a coherent answer, Dr. Papa decided to use his computer programming and math skills to create a crude, computer-based model that could explicitly represent how a physician might process each sign/symptom while diagnosing patients presenting with the problem of Acute Chest Pain. This computer-based representation of diagnostic reasoning eventually lead to the construction of an artificial intelligence tool (called KBIT) which models both knowledge base structures and information processing mechanisms theorized as underlying DDX in 1982. In 1985, he formalized his commitment to education and the learning sciences by enrolling in a PhD program in Higher Education/Computer Based Education and Cognitive Systems at UNT. He ultimately received his Doctor of Philosophy in 1990.
Over the years, Dr. Papa has transformed KBIT to a web-based tool now redesigned to function as an intelligent tutor supporting students acquire the problem-specific knowledge base structures (declarative knowledge) and information processing mechanisms (procedural knowledge), serving as antecedents to the development of diagnostic competence. After several years as Assistant Dean, Curricular Design and Educational Technologies, Dr. Papa was appointed Associate Dean, Curricular Design and Faculty Development at UNTHSC in 2010.
Dr. Papa has received numerous awards for his published educational research activities from groups such as the AAMC, AACOM, Decision Sciences Institute, ACEP, and, funding from organizations including the United States Department of Education and NBOME. His post doctoral training includes two fellowships programs at the Harvard Macy Foundation. Dr. Papa maintains a very active educational technologies (KBIT-based) research agenda.