Alan Schwartz


Posted at 11:47 am.

“There are a number of very important irreversibles to be discovered in our universe. One of them is that every time you make an experiment you learn more: quite literally, you can not learn less.”

R. Buckminster Fuller


Most of my research focuses on experimental and survey designs with quantititative data (read: I like measuring things with numbers), but I have great appreciation for qualitative methods as well, and am often engaged in mixed methods collaborations with other researchers. In my own work, I always try to push myself to ask about the psychological mechanisms that underlie the phenomena I describe, and to frame testable models with predictive power. In some cases, those are mathematical models; in others, conceptual frameworks.


My teaching approach is centered in adult learning theory, and emphasizes interactivity, reflection, and seeking relevance outside the classroom.

At UIC, I teach or have taught the following courses in our Master’s degree:

  • MHPE 501: Scholarship in Health Professions Education. A course in how to be scholarly (to use research evidence in practice) and how to do scholarship (to build research evidence)
  • MHPE 504: Leadership and Organizational Behavior in Health Professions Education. An examination of health and health professions education organization through multiple analytic frames, along with the study of leadership theory and skills.
  • MHPE 533: Survey Research Methods.
  • MHPE 441: Medical Decision Making. An introduction to the field of medical decision making, including normative models (Bayes’ theorem, expected utility decision making, cost-effectiveness analysis), descriptive theories (prospect theory, dual process theory), and approaches to the development of prescriptive decision aids.
  • MHPE 494: Grant Writing
  • MHPE 494: Introductory Quantitative Data Analysis. A basic course in quantitative data analysis, including exploratory analysis and data visualization, parametric and nonparametric hypothesis testing statistics, measures of association, analysis of variance, linear and logistic regression, path analysis, and a conceptual introduction to factor analysis and multidimensional scaling.

Outside of my Department, I regularly teach evidence-based medicine workshops to physicians, librarians, and other health professionals, and often direct or teach short courses in decision psychology at the Society for Medical Decision Making annual meeting.

Scientific Communication

One focus that unites teaching and scholarship is my interest in improving scientific communication. My major professional activity is in peer review; I have been a member of the editorial board of the journal Medical Decision Making and its 7th Editor-in-Chief (2013-2020). During my term, the Society began a new open access journal, Medical Decision Making Policy & Practice to showcase applied work, and where I also serve as editor-in-chief. I am also a contributing editor for the journal Judgment and Decision Making. I volunteer as a scientist visitor to Oak Park elementary and middle schools through the Science Alliance program of the Oak Park Education Foundation.