Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine
Assistant Professor, Faculty of Education
PhD, University of Toronto | Ontario Institute For Studies in Education, Developmental Psychology and Education
Saad Chahine has spent hundreds of hours in hospitals. He came to them first in the same way we all do: through struggle. As a child, a caregiver, and through personal injury, in his encounters with the process of healthcare Saad recognized some fundamental commonalities between education in healthcare and his own area of expertise as an educationalist.
Saad began his scholarly career as a student-athlete at in the Faculty of Education at McGill. After four surgical operations and countless hours of rehabilitation Saad left his football career behind him for two pursuits, one academic and the other artistic. Saad’s scholarly interest took him into the theory of mathematics. “Mathematics,” says Saad, “is trying to explain the world through another language.” But he doesn’t stop there. For Saad, the numbers and symbols that constitute the language of math do not contain validity all on their own: “the reason we have base-ten numbers is because we have ten fingers,” he laughs. Instead, “validity is always an interpretive construct.” Validity, for Saad, is to be discussed. It is to be worked out between persons. It is, ultimately, a construction.
Saad’s understanding of statistical validity leads us to photography, his second pursuit. Saad’s architectural photographs explore how the lines along which we perceive—just as the light, the angle, and the color—can be transformative. From the moment of capture at the click of the shutter, through development of the picture in the red light of the darkroom, to the framed display in a gallery, a photograph is an interpretation over which we all can negotiate. For Saad, this negotiation, this working out between people, “is what’s really great about perception.” And ultimately, he argues, it is also what stands between medical education and a newly rigorous system of workplace based assessment.
All too often in the current assessment system, the arguments we make about learners “are paper thin” because we have failed to perceive them as arguments, according to Saad. We’ve given ourselves too little freedom to ask “are you seeing what I’m seeing?” We lack the kind of inherent “flexibility of thinking” that is needed to make robust statistical interpretations about learning. And without such features, the process of assessment doesn’t do justice to the “heart and soul of medicine”-- the day to day practice of health professionals. Through his expertise in theories of assessment and learning developed at the Ontario Institute of Studies in Education (OISE), Saad is prepared to ask the difficult questions about assessment that can foster innovation in the coming shift to competency-based assessment in the clinical workplace.