Development of students' teaching skills is increasingly recognised as an important component of UK undergraduate medical curricula and, in consequence, there is renewed interest in the potential benefits of cross-year peer tutoring. Whilst several studies have described the use of cross-year peer tutoring in undergraduate medical courses, its use in the clinical setting is less well reported, particularly the effects of peer tutoring on volunteer tutors' views of teachers and teaching. This study explored the effects of participation in a cross-year peer tutoring programme in clinical examination skills ('OSCE tutor') on volunteer tutors' own skills and on their attitudes towards teachers and teaching.
Volunteer tutors were final year MBChB students who took part in the programme as part of a Student Selected Component (SSC). Tutees were year 3 MBChB students preparing for their end of year 'OSCE' examination. Pre and post participation questionnaires, including both Likert-type and open response questions, were used. Paired data was compared using the Wilcoxon signed-rank test. All tests were two-tailed with 5% significance level.
Tutors reflected their cohort in terms of gender but were drawn from among the more academically successful final year students. Most had previous teaching experience. They were influenced to participate in 'OSCE tutor' by a desire to improve their own teaching and associated generic skills and by contextual factors relating to the organisation or previous experience of the OSCE tutor programme. Issues relating to longer term career aspirations were less important. After the event, tutors felt that participation had enhanced their skills in various areas, including practical teaching skills, confidence in speaking to groups and communication skills; and that as a result of taking part, they were now more likely to undertake further teacher training and to make teaching a major part of their career. However, whilst a number of students reported that their views of teachers and teaching had changed as a result of participation, this did not translate into significant changes in responses to questions that explored their views of the roles and qualities required of a good clinical teacher.
Findings affirm the benefits to volunteer tutors of cross-year peer tutoring, particularly in terms of skills enhancement and reinforcement of positive attitudes towards future teaching responsibilities, and have implications for the design and organisation of such programmes.
In problem-based learning (PBL), tutors play an essential role in facilitating and efficiently structuring tutorials to enable students to construct individual cognitive networks, and have a significant impact on students' performance in subsequent assessments. The necessity of elaborate training to fulfil this complex role is undeniable. In the plethora of data on PBL however, little attention has been paid to tutor training which promotes competence in the moderation of specific difficult situations commonly encountered in PBL tutorials.
Major interactive obstacles arising in PBL tutorials were identified from prior publications. Potential solutions were defined by an expert group. Video clips were produced addressing the tutor's role and providing exemplary solutions. These clips were embedded in a PBL tutor-training course at our medical faculty combining PBL self-experience with a non-medical case. Trainees provided pre- and post-intervention self-efficacy ratings regarding their PBL-related knowledge, skills, and attitudes, as well as their acceptance and the feasibility of integrating the video clips into PBL tutor-training (all items: 100 = completely agree, 0 = don't agree at all).
An interactive online tool for PBL tutor training was developed comprising 18 video clips highlighting difficult situations in PBL tutorials to encourage trainees to develop and formulate their own intervention strategies. In subsequent sequences, potential interventions are presented for the specific scenario, with a concluding discussion which addresses unresolved issues.
The tool was well accepted and considered worth the time spent on it (81.62 ± 16.91; 62.94 ± 16.76). Tutors considered the videos to prepare them well to respond to specific challenges in future tutorials (75.98 ± 19.46). The entire training, which comprised PBL self-experience and video clips as integral elements, improved tutor's self-efficacy with respect to dealing with problematic situations (pre: 36.47 ± 26.25, post: 66.99 ± 21.01; p < .0001) and significantly increased appreciation of PBL as a method (pre: 61.33 ± 24.84, post: 76.20 ± 20.12; p < .0001).
The interactive tool with instructional video clips is designed to broaden the view of future PBL tutors in terms of recognizing specific obstacles to functional group dynamics and developing individual intervention strategies. We show that this tool is well accepted and can be successfully integrated into PBL tutor-training. Free access is provided to the entire tool at http://www.medizinische-fakultaet-hd.uni-heidelberg.de/fileadmin/PBLTutorTraining/player.swf.
Tutors in a Problem-Based Learning (PBL) curriculum are thought to play active roles in guiding students to develop frameworks for use in the construction of knowledge. This implies that both subject-matter expertise and the ability of tutors to facilitate the learning process must be important in helping students learn. This study examines the behavioural effects of tutors in terms of subject-matter expertise, social congruence and cognitive congruence on students’ learning process and on their final achievement. The extent of students’ learning at each PBL phase was estimated by tracking the number of relevant concepts recalled at the end of each learning phase, while student achievement was based on students’ ability to describe and elaborate upon the relationship between relevant concepts learned. By using Analysis of Covariance, social congruence of the tutor was found to have a significant influence on learning in each PBL phase while all of the tutor-related behaviours had a significant impact on student achievement. The results suggest that the ability of tutors to communicate informally with students and hence create a less threatening learning environment that promotes a free flow exchange of ideas, has a greater impact on learning at each of the PBL phases as compared to tutors’ subject-matter expertise and their ability to explain concepts in a way that is easily understood by students. The data presented indicates that these tutor-related behaviours are determinants of learning in a PBL curriculum, with social congruence having a greater influence on learning in the different PBL phases.
Problem-based learning; Social congruence; Cognitive congruence; Subject-matter expertise; Tutor behaviour
Problem-based learning (PBL) involves discussions among students who resolve loosely-structured problems to facilitate learning. In the PBL curriculum, faculty tutors are employed as facilitators for small groups of students. Because of lack of time and staff shortage, the effectiveness of tutorless PBL has been discussed as an alternate option.
Sessions in which tutored and tutorless PBL groups are mixed were presented by 1st-year medical students, who experienced both tutored and tutorless groups alternately in the two sessions of a year. To examine the effectiveness of tutored and tutorless PBL, written examination scores (WES) and self-contentment scores (SCS) were statistically analysed.
WES averages did not significantly differ between the tutored and tutorless groups; however, a significantly greater variation was observed in WES in the tutorless group. SCS averages tended to be higher in the tutored PBL than in tutorless PBL groups.
Students in these tutorless PBL groups performed well in their written examinations, whereas those in the tutored PBL groups, achieved this and reported better self-contentment with their learning experience. Tutorless PBL sessions were considered to be comparable to tutored PBL sessions at least in the early stages.
Problem-based learning; Tutorless group; Curriculum; Large class; Learning strategy
Skills lab training has become a widespread tool in medical education, and nowadays, skills labs are ubiquitous among medical faculties across the world. An increasingly prevalent didactic approach in skills lab teaching is peer-assisted learning (PAL), which has been shown to be not only effective, but can be considered to be on a par with faculty staff-led training. The aim of the study is to determine whether voluntary preclinical skills teaching by peer tutors is a feasible method for preparing medical students for effective workplace learning in clerkships and to investigate both tutees’ and tutors’ attitudes towards such an intervention.
A voluntary clerkship preparation skills course was designed and delivered. N = 135 pre-clinical medical students visited the training sessions. N = 10 tutors were trained as skills-lab peer tutors. Voluntary clerkship preparation skills courses as well as tutor training were evaluated by acceptance ratings and pre-post self-assessment ratings. Furthermore, qualitative analyses of skills lab tutors’ attitudes towards the course were conducted following principles of grounded theory.
Results show that a voluntary clerkship preparation skills course is in high demand, is highly accepted and leads to significant changes in self-assessment ratings. Regarding qualitative analysis of tutor statements, clerkship preparation skills courses were considered to be a helpful and necessary asset to preclinical medical education, which benefits from the tutors’ own clerkship experiences and a high standardization of training. Tutor training is also highly accepted and regarded as an indispensable tool for peer tutors.
Our study shows that the demand for voluntary competence-oriented clerkship preparation is high, and a peer tutor-led skills course as well as tutor training is well accepted. The focused didactic approach for tutor training is perceived to be effective in preparing tutors for their teaching activity in this context. A prospective study design would be needed to substantiate the results objectively and confirm the effectiveness.
Medical education; Peer assisted learning; Clerkship preparation; Tutor training; Clinical skills
Skills labs provide a sheltered learning environment. As close supervision and individual feedback were proven to be important in ensuring effective skills training, we implemented a cross-year peer tutor system in our skills lab of internal medicine that allowed intense training sessions with small learning groups (3–4 students) taught by one student tutor.
The expectations, experiences and criticisms of peer tutors regarding the tutor system for undergraduate skills lab training were investigated in the context of a focus group. In addition, tutees' acceptance of this learning model and of their student tutors was evaluated by means of a pre/post web-based survey.
14 voluntary senior students were intensely prepared by consultants for their peer tutor activity. 127 students participated in the project, 66.9% of which responded to the web-based survey (23 topics with help of 6-point Likert scale + free comments). Acceptance was very high (5.69 ± 0.07, mean ± SEM), and self-confidence ratings increased significantly after the intervention for each of the trained skills (average 1.96 ± 0.08, all p < 0.002). Tutors received high global ratings (5.50 ± 0.07) and very positive anonymous individual feedback from participants. 82% of tutees considered the peer teaching model to be sufficient, and a mere 1% expressed the wish for skills training to be provided by faculty staff only. Focus group analyses with tutors revealed 18 different topics, including profit in personal knowledge and personal satisfaction through teaching activities. The ratio of 1:4 tutor/tutees was regarded to be very beneficial for effective feedback, and the personalized online evaluation by tutees to be a strong motivator and helpful for further improvements. The tutors ascribed great importance to the continuous availability of a contact doctor in case of uncertainties.
This study demonstrates that peer teaching in undergraduate technical clinical skills training is feasible and widely accepted among tutees, provided that the tutors receive sufficient training and supervision.
Determine effects of computer-based tutoring on diagnostic performance gains, meta-cognition, and acceptance using two different problem representations. Describe impact of tutoring on spectrum of diagnostic skills required for task performance. Identify key features of student-tutor interaction contributing to learning gains.
Prospective, between-subjects study, controlled for participant level of training. Resident physicians in two academic pathology programs spent four hours using one of two interfaces which differed mainly in external problem representation. The case-focused representation provided an open-learning environment in which students were free to explore evidence-hypothesis relationships within a case, but could not visualize the entire diagnostic space. The knowledge-focused representation provided an interactive representation of the entire diagnostic space, which more tightly constrained student actions.
Metrics included results of pretest, post-test and retention-test for multiple choice and case diagnosis tests, ratios of performance to student reported certainty, results of participant survey, learning curves, and interaction behaviors during tutoring.
Students had highly significant learning gains after one tutoring session. Learning was retained at one week. There were no differences between the two interfaces in learning gains on post-test or retention test. Only students in the knowledge-focused interface exhibited significant metacognitive gains from pretest to post-test and pretest to retention test. Students rated the knowledge-focused interface significantly higher than the case-focused interface.
Cognitive tutoring is associated with improved diagnostic performance in a complex medical domain. The effect is retained at one-week post-training. Knowledge-focused external problem representation shows an advantage over case-focused representation for metacognitive effects and user acceptance.
Objective: Peer-assisted learning is widely used in medical education. However, little is known about an appropriate didactic preparation for peer tutors. We herein describe the development of a focused didactic training for skills lab tutors in Internal Medicine and report on a retrospective survey about the student tutors’ acceptance and the perceived transferability of attended didactic training modules.
Methods: The course consisted of five training modules:
‘How to present and explain effectively’: the student tutors had to give a short presentation with subsequent video analysis and feedback in order to learn methods of effective presentation. ‘How to explain precisely’: Precise explanation techniques were trained by exercises of exact description of geometric figures and group feedback. ‘How to explain on impulse’: Spontaneous teaching presentations were simulated and feedback was given. ‘Peyton’s 4 Step Approach’: Peyton‘s Method for explanation of practical skills was introduced and trained by the participants. ‘How to deal with critical incidents’: Possibilities to deal with critical teaching situations were worked out in group sessions.
Twenty-three student tutors participated in the retrospective survey by filling out an electronic questionnaire, after at least 6 months of teaching experience.
Results: The exercise ‘How to present and explain effectively’ received the student tutors’ highest rating for their improvement of didactic qualification and was seen to be most easily transferable into the skills lab environment. This module was rated as the most effective module by nearly half of the participants. It was followed by ‘Peyton’s 4 Step Approach’ , though it was also seen to be the most delicate method in regard to its transfer into the skills lab owing to time concerns. However, it was considered to be highly effective. The other modules received lesser votes by the tutors as the most helpful exercise in improving their didactic qualification for skills lab teaching.
Conclusion: We herein present a pilot concept for a focused didactic training of peer tutors and present results of a retrospective survey among our skills lab tutors about the distinct training modules. This report might help other faculties to design didactic courses for skills lab student tutors.
Peer-assisted learning; Skills lab; didactic training; Peyton's Methode
Medical programmes that implement problem-based learning (PBL) face several challenges when introducing this innovative learning method. PBL relies on small group as the foundation of study, and tutors facilitate learning by guiding the process rather than teaching the group. One of the major challenges is the use of strategies to assess students working in small groups. Self-, peer- and tutor-assessment are integral part of PBL tutorials and they're not easy to perform, especially for non experienced students and tutors. The undergraduate PBL medical programme was introduced in 2003, and after two years the curriculum committee decided to evaluate the tutorial assessment in the new program.
A random group of ten students, out of a cohort of sixty, and ten tutors (out of eighteen) were selected for semi-structured interviews. The social representations' theory was used to explore how the students and tutors made sense of "assessment in tutorials". The data were content analyzed using software for qualitative and quantitative processing of text according to lexicological distribution patterns.
Even though students and tutors are aware of the broader purpose of assessment, they felt that they were not enough trained and confident to the tutorial assessment. Assigning numbers to complex behaviors on a regular basis, as in tutorials, is counter productive to cooperative group learning and self assessment. Tutors believe that students are immature and not able to assess themselves and tutors. Students believe that good grades are closely related to good oral presentation skills and also showed a corporative attitude among themselves (protecting each other from poor grades).
Faculty training on PBL tutorials' assessment process and a systematic strategy to evaluate new programs is absolutely necessary to review and correct directions. It is envisaged that planners can make better-informed decisions about curricular implementation, review and reform when information of this nature is made available to them.
To explore opinions of undergraduate medical students regarding learning outcomes of the instructional strategy of Problem Based Learning (PBL). In addition their views were sought about the role of tutors and qualities of effective tutors.
This was a cross-sectional, questionnaire based study which was conducted in two colleges of Medicine, Central region, Saudi Arabia during the period of 1st of April to 30th June 2012.
One hundred seventy four undergraduate medical students participated in this study. Seventy percent of participants have indicated that PBL strategy contributed to the development of their knowledge, presentation skills, team work abilities, and accepting criticism from other colleagues. Regarding the tutors’ role in PBL tutorials, majority of the participants (75%) indicated that this role is essential, nevertheless, only 58% of students indicated that this role is clear and well identified. Sixty three percent of participants preferred a member role in the PBL tutorials and 80 percent of participants preferred both content and process expert tutors in the PBL tutorials. Significant statistical difference was noted between the views of students and their schools, gender, and study phase.
Majority of the participants believed that PBL had a positive impact on the development of their cognitive, personal and teamwork skills. The view of the students in this study and the available evidence suggest that tutor should have both qualities; content and process expertise, in order to have the best outcomes from the PBL tutorials.
Problem Based Learning; Teaching; Undergraduate Medical Education
Peer teaching is now used in medical education with its value increasingly being recognised. It is not yet established whether students differ in their satisfaction with teaching by peer-teachers compared to those taught by academic or clinical staff. This study aimed to establish satisfaction with communication skills teaching between these three teaching groups.
Students participated in a role-play practical facilitated either by clinicians, peer-teachers or non-clinical staff. A questionnaire was administered to first-year medical students after participating in a communication skills role-play session asking students to evaluate their satisfaction with the session. Data were analysed in SPSS 20.
One hundred and ninety eight students out of 239 (83%) responded. Students were highly satisfied with the teaching session with no difference in satisfaction scores found between those sessions taught by peers, clinical and non-clinical staff members. 158 (80%) considered the session useful and 139 (69%) strongly agreed tutors facilitated their development. There was no significant difference in satisfaction scores based on tutor background.
Satisfaction is as high when tutored by peer-teachers compared to clinicians or non-clinical staff. Constructive feedback is welcomed from a range of personnel. Final-year students could play an increasing role in the teaching of pre-clinical medical students.
Communication skills; Peer-teaching; Medical education
Over two-thirds of UK medical schools are augmenting their selection procedures for medical students by using the United Kingdom Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT), which employs tests of cognitive and non-cognitive personal qualities, but clear evidence of the tests’ predictive validity is lacking. This study explores whether academic performance and professional behaviours that are important in a health professional context can be predicted by these measures, when taken before or very early in the medical course.
This prospective cohort study follows the progress of the entire student cohort who entered Hull York Medical School in September 2007, having taken the UKCAT cognitive tests in 2006 and the non-cognitive tests a year later. This paper reports on the students’ first and second academic years of study. The main outcome measures were regular, repeated tutor assessment of individual students’ interpersonal skills and professional behaviour, and annual examination performance in the three domains of recall and application of knowledge, evaluation of data, and communication and practical clinical skills. The relationships between non-cognitive test scores, cognitive test scores, tutor assessments and examination results were explored using the Pearson product–moment correlations for each group of data; the data for students obtaining the top and bottom 20% of the summative examination results were compared using Analysis of Variance.
Personal qualities measured by non-cognitive tests showed a number of statistically significant relationships with ratings of behaviour made by tutors, with performance in each year’s objective structured clinical examinations (OSCEs), and with themed written summative examination marks in each year. Cognitive ability scores were also significantly related to each year’s examination results, but seldom to professional behaviours. The top 20% of examination achievers could be differentiated from the bottom 20% on both non-cognitive and cognitive measures.
This study shows numerous significant relationships between both cognitive and non-cognitive test scores, academic examination scores and indicators of professional behaviours in medical students. This suggests that measurement of non-cognitive personal qualities in applicants to medical school could make a useful contribution to selection and admission decisions. Further research is required in larger representative groups, and with more refined predictor measures and behavioural assessment methods, to establish beyond doubt the incremental validity of such measures over conventional cognitive assessments.
Context: Athletic training educators often anecdotally suggest that athletic training students enhance their learning by teaching their peers. However, peer-assisted learning (PAL) has not been examined within athletic training education to provide evidence for PAL's current use or for its use as a pedagogic tool.
Objective: To assess the effectiveness of intentional, formal PAL on the performance of psychomotor skills and to identify students' perceptions of PAL.
Design: Randomized, pretest-posttest experimental design.
Setting: Athletic Training Research and Education Laboratory.
Patients or Other Participants: Fifty-one undergraduate students (27 athletic training majors, 24 nonmajors).
Intervention(s): Review sessions led by either an Approved Clinical Instructor or peer tutor.
Main Outcome Measure(s): We assessed pretest and posttest performance scores (number of correct skills) and the amount of time to complete the psychomotor skills in 3 categories of orthopaedic evaluation of the hand and wrist for subjects assigned to either a peer tutor or an Approved Clinical Instructor review group. Using the Athletic Training Peer-Assisted Learning Assessment Survey, we evaluated the perceptions of students assigned to the peer-tutor group regarding the benefits of, and preferences for, PAL.
Results: Differences in the pretest-posttest skill scores were noted in both groups (P < .05). No differences in the posttest skills scores or the times to perform the skills were seen between the groups. The Athletic Training Peer-Assisted Learning Assessment Survey revealed that most (n = 19, 70.4%) of the subjects felt less anxious when practicing psychomotor skills with peer tutors than with the laboratory instructor, and many students (n = 12, 44.4%) felt more self-confident when practicing psychomotor skills with a peer tutor.
Conclusions: Peer-assisted learning appears to be a valid method for improving athletic training psychomotor skills. Peers can be resources for practicing clinical skills and report benefiting from the collaboration. Peer-assisted learning should be deliberately integrated into athletic training education programs to enhance student learning and collaboration.
athletic training education; peer education; peer teaching; clinical instruction; athletic training students
Skills-lab training as a methodological teaching approach is nowadays part of the training programs of almost all medical faculties. Specific ingredients have been shown to contribute to a successful learning experience in skills-labs. Although it is undoubted that the instructional approach used to introduce novel clinical technical skills to learners has a decisive impact on subsequent skills performance, as yet, little is known about differential effects of varying instructional methods. An instructional approach that is becoming increasingly prevalent in medical education is “Peyton’s Four-Step Approach”. As Peyton’s Four Step Approach was designed for a 1:1 teacher : student ratio, the aim of the present study was to develop and evaluate a modified Peyton’s Approach for small group teaching.
The modified Peyton’s Approach was applied in three skills-lab training sessions on IV catheter insertion, each with three first- or second year medical students (n = 9), delivered by three different skills-lab teachers. The presented descriptive study investigated the practicability and subjective impressions of skills-lab trainees and tutors. Skills-lab sessions were evaluated by trainees’ self-assessment, expert ratings, and qualitative analysis of semi-standardized interviews conducted with trainees and tutors.
The model was well accepted by trainees, and was rated as easy to realize, resulting in a good flow of teaching and success in attracting trainee’s attention when observed by expert raters. Qualitative semi-standardized interviews performed with all of the trainees and tutors revealed that trainees valued repeated observation, instruction of trainees and the opportunity for independent performance, while tutors stressed that trainees were highly concentrated throughout the training and that they perceived repeated observation to be a valuable preparation for their own performance.
The modified Peyton’s Approach to instruct small groups of students in skills-lab training sessions has revealed to be practicable, well accepted by trainees, and easy for tutors to realize. Further research should address the realization of the model in larger skills-lab training groups.
Undergraduate medical education; Clinical skills; Catheter insertion; Simulation; Instructional approach; Peyton; Small group teaching
Role modelling by clinicians assists in development of medical students’ professional competencies, values and attitudes. Three core characteristics of a positive role model include 1) clinical attributes, 2) teaching skills, and 3) personal qualities. This study was designed to explore medical students’ perceptions of their bedside clinical tutors as role models during the first year of a medical program.
The study was conducted with one cohort (n = 301) of students who had completed Year 1 of the Sydney Medical Program in 2013. A total of nine focus groups (n = 59) were conducted with medical students following completion of Year 1. Data were transcribed verbatim. Thematic analysis was used to code and categorise data into themes.
Students identified both positive and negative characteristics and behaviour displayed by their clinical tutors. Characteristics and behaviour that students would like to emulate as medical practitioners in the future included:
1) Clinical attributes: a good knowledge base; articulate history taking skills; the ability to explain and demonstrate skills at the appropriate level for students; and empathy, respect and genuine compassion for patients.
2) Teaching skills: development of a rapport with students; provision of time towards the growth of students academically and professionally; provision of a positive learning environment; an understanding of the student curriculum and assessment requirements; immediate and useful feedback; and provision of patient interaction.
3) Personal qualities: respectful interprofessional staff interactions; preparedness for tutorials; demonstration of a passion for teaching; and demonstration of a passion for their career choice.
Excellence in role modelling entails demonstration of excellent clinical care, teaching skills and personal characteristics. Our findings reinforce the important function of clinical bedside tutors as role models, which has implications for faculty development and recruitment.
Role modelling; Medical students; Clinical tutors
The aim of this study was to research the feasibility of training mental health consumers as tutors for 4th year medical students in psychiatry.
A partnership between a consumer network and an academic unit in Psychological Medicine was formed to jointly develop a training package for consumer tutors and a curriculum in interviewing skills for medical students. Student attitudes to mental health consumers were measured pre and post the program. All tutorial evaluation data was analysed using univariate statistics. Both tutors and students evaluated the teaching program using a 4 point rating scale. The mean scores for teaching and content for both students and tutors were compared using an independent samples t-test.
Consumer tutors were successfully trained and accredited as tutors and able to sustain delivery of tutorials over a 4 year period. The study found that whilst the medical students started with positive attitudes towards consumers prior to the program, there was a general trend towards improved attitude across all measures. Other outcomes for tutors and students (both positive and negative) are described.
Consumer tutors along with professional tutors have a place in the education of medical students, are an untapped resource and deliver largely positive outcomes for students and themselves. Further possible developments are described.
Teaching the steps of evidence-based medicine (EBM) to undergraduate as well as postgraduate health care professionals is crucial for implementation of effective, beneficial health care practices and abandonment of ineffective, harmful ones. Stellenbosch University in Cape Town, South Africa, offers a 12-week, completely online module on EBM within the Family Medicine division, to medical specialists in their first year of training. The aim of this study was to formatively evaluate this module; assessing both the mode of delivery; as well as the perceived effectiveness and usefulness thereof.
We used mixed methods to evaluate this module: A document review to assess whether the content of the module reflects important EBM competencies; a survey of the students to determine their experiences of the module; and semi-structured interviews with the tutors to explore their perspectives of the module. Ethics approval was obtained.
The document review indicated that EBM competencies were covered adequately, although critical appraisal only focused on randomised controlled trials and guidelines. Students had a positive attitude towards the module, but felt that they needed more support from the tutors. Tutors felt that students engaged actively in discussions, but experienced difficulties with understanding certain concepts of EBM. Furthermore, they felt that it was challenging explaining these via the online learning platform and saw the need to incorporate more advanced technology to better connect with the students. In their view the key to successful learning of EBM was to keep it relevant and applicable to everyday practice. Tutors also felt that an online module on EBM was advantageous, since doctors from all over the world were able to participate.
Our study has shown that the online module on EBM was effective in increasing EBM knowledge and skills of postgraduate students and was well received by both students and tutors. Students and tutors experienced generic challenges that accompany any educational intervention of EBM (e.g. understanding difficult concepts), but in addition had to deal with challenges unique to the online learning environment. Teachers of EBM should acknowledge these so as to enhance and successfully implement EBM teaching and learning for all students.
Evidence-based medicine; Postgraduate; Online learning; Evaluation
Despite being a well-established pedagogical approach in medical education, the implementation of problem-based learning (PBL) approaches hinges not only on educational aspects of the medical curriculum but also on the characteristics and necessities of the health system and the medical labor market within which it is situated.
To report our experiences implementing a PBL-based approach in a region of Brazil where: 1) all pre-university education and the vast majority of medical courses are based on traditional, lecture-based instructions; and 2) students’ career interests in primary care, arguably the prototypical PBL trainee, are heavily disfavored because of economics.
Brazilian guidelines require that clinical training take place during the last 2 years of the medical program and include intensive, supervised, inpatient and outpatient rotations in pediatrics, family medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, internal medicine, and surgery. Throughout the pre-clinical curriculum, then, students learn to deal with progressively more difficult and complex cases – typically through the use of PBL tutors in a primary care context. However, because of curricular time constraints in the clerkships, and students’ general preoccupation with specialty practice, the continuation of PBL-based approaches in the pre-clinical years – and the expansion of PBL into the clerkships – has become exceedingly difficult.
Discussion and conclusion
Our experience illustrates the importance of context (both cultural and structural) in implementing certain pedagogies within one Brazilian training program. We plan to address these barriers by: 1) integrating units, whenever possible, within a spiral curriculum; 2) introducing real patients earlier in students’ pre-clinical coursework (primarily in a primary care setting); and 3) using subject experts as PBL tutors to better motivate students.
problem-based learning; peer tutoring; integrated curriculum; curriculum development; tutorial session; medical skills; primary care
Bedside teaching lies at the heart of medical education. The learning environment afforded to students during clinical tutorials contributes substantially to their knowledge, thinking, and learning. Situated cognition theory posits that the depth and breadth of the students’ learning experience is dependent upon the attitude of the clinical teacher, the structure of the tutorial, and the understanding of tutorial and learning objectives. This theory provides a useful framework to conceptualize how students’ experience within their clinical tutorials impacts their knowledge, thinking, and learning.
The study was conducted with one cohort (n=301) of students who had completed year 1 of the medical program at Sydney Medical School in 2013. All students were asked to complete a three-part questionnaire regarding their perceptions of their clinical tutor’s attributes, the consistency of the tutor, and the best features of the tutorials and need for improvement. Both quantitative and qualitative data were collected and analyzed using descriptive statistics.
The response rate to the questionnaire was 88% (265/301). Students perceived that their tutors displayed good communication skills and enthusiasm, encouraged their learning, and were empathetic toward patients. Fifty-two percent of students reported having the same communications tutor for the entire year, and 28% reported having the same physical examination tutor for the entire year. Students would like increased patient contact, greater structure within their tutorials, and greater alignment of teaching with the curriculum.
Situated cognition theory provides a valuable lens to view students’ experience of learning within the clinical environment. Our findings demonstrate students’ appreciation of clinical tutors as role models, the need for consistency in feedback, the importance of structure within tutorials, and the need for tutors to have an understanding of the curriculum and learning objectives for each teaching session.
bedside teaching; clinical tutorials; role modeling; situated cognition
In three experiments, we compared the effects of instructional arrangements that varied in: teacher versus peer mediators, methods used, levels of student academic responding generated, and content taught and tested. Instructional arrangements (i.e., tasks, structure, teacher position, teacher behavior) and students' levels of academic responding were measured by an observation system which served as an index of the independent variables. Students' accuracy on weekly spelling, arithmetic, and vocabulary tests and pre- and post-standardized achievement tests (Experiments 2 and 3 only) were the dependent variables. Results indicated that the classwide peer tutoring, compared to the teacher's procedure, produced more student academic responding and higher weekly test scores, regardless of treatment order or subject matter content (Experiment 1). The four lowest performing students in each class, in particular, benefited from peer tutoring, often performing as well as the other students. These findings were replicated in Experiments 2 and 3 wherein content taught/tested was also manipulated. Standardized test score gains were higher in those areas in which peer tutoring was used longest. Issues related to the functional analysis of instruction and achievement gain are discussed.
Clinical contact in the early curriculum and workplace learning with active tutorship are important parts of modern medical education. In a previously published study, we found that medical students' tutors experienced a heavier workload, less reasonable demands and less encouragement, than students. The aim of this interview study was to further illuminate physicians' experiences as clinical tutors.
Twelve tutors in the Early Professional Contact course were interviewed. In the explorative interviews, they were asked to reflect upon their experiences of working as tutors in this course. Systematic text condensation was used as the analysis method.
In the analysis, five main themes of physicians' experiences as clinical tutors in the medical education emerged: (a) Pleasure and stimulation. Informants appreciated tutorship and meeting both students and fellow tutors, (b) Disappointment and stagnation. Occasionally, tutors were frustrated and expressed negative feelings, (c) Demands and duty. Informants articulated an ambition to give students their best; a desire to provide better medical education but also a duty to meet demands of the course management, (d) Impact of workplace relations. Tutoring was made easier when the clinic's management provided active support and colleagues accepted students at the clinic, and (e) Multitasking difficulties. Combining several duties with those of a tutorship was often reported as difficult.
It is important that tutors' tasks are given adequate time, support and preparation. Accordingly, it appears highly important to avoid multitasking and too heavy a workload among tutors in order to facilitate tutoring. A crucial factor is acceptance and active organizational support from the clinic's management. This implies that tutoring by workplace learning in medical education should play an integrated and accepted role in the healthcare system.
The effects of unstructured peer-tutoring procedures on the math performance of fourth- and fifth-grade students were investigated. Students' performances in two daily math sessions, during which they worked problems of the same type and difficulty, were compared. When students tutored each other over the same math problems as they subsequently worked, higher accuracies and rates of performance were associated with the tutored math sessions. The use of consequences for accurate performance seemed to enhance the effects of tutoring on accuracy. The results from an independent-study control condition, which was the same peer-tutoring except that students did not interact with each other, suggested that interactions between students during the tutoring procedure were, in part, responsible for improved accuracy and rate of performance. When students tutored each other over different but related problems to those that they were subsequently asked to solve, accuracies and rates during tutored math sessions were also higher, suggesting the development of generalized skills in solving particular types of math problems.
Resuscitation is a life-saving measure usually instructed in simulation sessions. Small-group teaching is effective. However, feasible group sizes for resuscitation classes are unknown. We investigated the impact of different group sizes on the outcome of resuscitation training.
Medical students (n = 74) were randomized to courses with three, five or eight participants per tutor. The course duration was adjusted according to the group size, so that there was a time slot of 6 minutes hands-on time for every student. All participants performed an objective structured clinical examination before and after training. The teaching sessions were videotaped and resuscitation quality was scored using a checklist while we measured the chest compression parameters with a manikin. In addition, we recorded hands-on-time, questions to the tutor and unrelated conversation.
Results are displayed as median (IQR). Checklist pass rates and scores were comparable between the groups of three, five and eight students per tutor in the post-test (93%, 100% and 100%). Groups of eight students asked fewer questions (0.5 (0.0 – 1.0) vs. 3.0 (2.0 – 4.0), p < .001), had less hands-on time (2:16 min (1:15 – 4:55 min) vs. 4:07 min (2:54 – 5:52 min), p = .02), conducted more unrelated conversations (17.0 ± 5.1 and 2.9 ± 1.7, p < 0.001) and had lower self-assessments than groups of three students per tutor (7.0 (6.1 – 9.0) and 8.2 (7.2 – 9.0), p = .03).
Resuscitation checklist scores and pass rates after training were comparable in groups of three, five or eight medical students, although smaller groups had advantages in teaching interventions and hands-on time. Our results suggest that teaching BLS skills is effective in groups up to eight medical students, but smaller groups yielded more intense teaching conditions, which might be crucial for more complex skills or less advanced students.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1472-6920-14-185) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Respiratory disease is a major cause of morbidity and mortality not only in the United Kingdom, but globally. A good understanding of respiratory disease and its treatment is essential for all medical graduates. As a result of changes in clinical practice, patients with some common respiratory illnesses are less often admitted to hospital, restricting the experience available to undergraduate students. Combined with a potential shortage of clinical teachers, this means that new methods of teaching need to be developed and appraised. The aim of this study was to establish whether a web-based package on the diagnosis of respiratory disease would be as effective and as acceptable to final year medical students as tutor-led methods of teaching the same material.
137 out of 315 final year undergraduate students in a single medical school volunteered to take part. Each received up to two hours of tutor-lead interactive, tutor-lead didactic or electronic, Web-based teaching on the accurate diagnosis and management of respiratory disease. Post teaching performance was assessed by multiple true/false questions and data interpretation exercises, whilst students' teaching preferences were assessed by questionnaire.
Despite a high knowledge baseline before the study, there was a small, but statistically significant increase in knowledge score after all forms of teaching. Similarly, data interpretation skills improved in all groups, irrespective of teaching format, Although paradoxically most students expressed a preference for interactive tutor-lead teaching, spirometry interpretation in those receiving web-based teaching improved significantly more [p = 0.041] than in those in the interactive group.
Web-based teaching is at least as good as other teaching formats, but we need to overcome students' reluctance to engage with this teaching method.
Problem-based learning (PBL) is well established in medical education and beyond, and continues to be developed and explored. Challenges include how to connect the somewhat abstract nature of classroom-based PBL with clinical practice and how to maintain learner engagement in the process of PBL over time.
A study was conducted to investigate the efficacy of decision-PBL (D-PBL), a variant form of PBL that replaces linear PBL cases with virtual patients. These Web-based interactive cases provided learners with a series of patient management pathways. Learners were encouraged to consider and discuss courses of action, take their chosen management pathway, and experience the consequences of their decisions. A Web-based application was essential to allow scenarios to respond dynamically to learners’ decisions, to deliver the scenarios to multiple PBL classrooms in the same timeframe, and to record centrally the paths taken by the PBL groups.
A randomized controlled trial in crossover design was run involving all learners (N=81) in the second year of the graduate entry stream for the undergraduate medicine program at St George’s University of London. Learners were randomized to study groups; half engaged in a D-PBL activity whereas the other half had a traditional linear PBL activity on the same subject material. Groups alternated D-PBL and linear PBL over the semester. The measure was mean cohort performance on specific face-to-face exam questions at the end of the semester.
D-PBL groups performed better than linear PBL groups on questions related to D-PBL with the difference being statistically significant for all questions. Differences between the exam performances of the 2 groups were not statistically significant for the questions not related to D-PBL. The effect sizes for D-PBL–related questions were large and positive (>0.6) except for 1 question that showed a medium positive effect size. The effect sizes for questions not related to D-PBL were all small (≤0.3) with a mix of positive and negative values.
The efficacy of D-PBL was indicated by improved exam performance for learners who had D-PBL compared to those who had linear PBL. This suggests that the use of D-PBL leads to better midterm learning outcomes than linear PBL, at least for learners with prior experience with linear PBL. On the basis of tutor and student feedback, St George’s University of London and the University of Nicosia, Cyprus have replaced paper PBL cases for midstage undergraduate teaching with D-PBL virtual patients, and 6 more institutions in the ePBLnet partnership will be implementing D-PBL in Autumn 2015.
problem-based learning; decision making; education, medical; virtual patients; curriculum