Student perceptions of PBL tutor performance: a longitudinal cohort study

Tunny, T., Papinczak, T., and Young, L. (2010) Student perceptions of PBL tutor performance: a longitudinal cohort study. Focus on Health Professional Education, 11 (3). pp. 74-84.

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Background and Aim: Problembased learning (PBL) has been used to assist in educational development and curriculum delivery in undergraduate medical programs. The aim of this study was to examine student perception scores of PBL tutor performance over a three year period in the areas tutor facilitated PBL process skills, tutor personal attributes and the tutor's use of expert knowledge in the PBL sessions. This occurred concurrently with the continued investment in the on-going development of tutor facilitation skills.

As possible contributing markers of the effectiveness of the PBL tutor support and training programs, we examined changes in student perception scores of PBL tutor performance across the first and second years of their PBL-based graduate-entry medical program.

Methods: Tutors undergo an on-going training program with continued educational support. The training program equips tutors with advanced skills in facilitating effective group process and functional dynamics, content expertise and active learning strategies. Student ratings of PBL tutor performance were collected in four defined areas including PBL-Process Skills, Group-Process Skills, Personal Attributes of tutors, and Use of Expert Knowledge. An evaluation questionnaire was developed, administered to all students in each year, and an aggregation of total ratings enabled an analysis of student perceptions of tutor performance.

Results: First year students' perception scores for their first term experience with problem based learning improved significantly when examined longitudinally across the three years of this study. Students' perception scores were also examined for each PBL term across a single year for Year 1 (three terms) and Year 2 (four terms). Student scores remained high throughout each year, but showed a small significant fall from Term 1 to Term 3 in Year 1. No significant changes in student scores were observed throughout the second year of the medical PBL program.

Conclusion: Effective problem-based tutorials are reliant on the qualities of the individual PBL tutor, and also rely on an effective PBL tutor training and support program. This large longitudinal study suggests that student perception scores may be an appropriate way of monitoring PBL tutor performance, and provides a reasonable manner in which assessment of tutor performance in PBL based curricula may be undertaken.

Item ID: 18255
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1442-1100
Keywords: medical education, student perceptions, problem based learning, tutor
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Date Deposited: 28 Sep 2011 06:17
FoR Codes: 13 EDUCATION > 1302 Curriculum and Pedagogy > 130209 Medicine, Nursing and Health Curriculum and Pedagogy @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970113 Expanding Knowledge in Education @ 50%
93 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 9302 Teaching and Instruction > 930202 Teacher and Instructor Development @ 50%
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