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Assessing Effective Teaching: What Medical Students Value When Developing Evaluation Instruments

Pettit, Jeffrey E. PhD; Axelson, Rick D. PhD; Ferguson, Kristi J. PhD; Rosenbaum, Marcy E. PhD

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000000447
Research Reports

Purpose: To investigate what criteria medical students would value and use in assessing teaching skills.

Method: Fourth-year medical students at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine enrolled in a teaching elective course are required to design and use an evaluation instrument to assess effective teaching. Each class uses a similar process in developing their instruments. Since the first class in spring 2007, 193 medical students have created 36 different instruments. Three faculty evaluation experts conducted a thematic analysis of the instruments and coded the information according to what was being evaluated and what types of ratings were indicated. The data were submitted to a fourth faculty reviewer, who synthesized the information and adjusted the codes to better capture the data. Common themes and categories were detected.

Results: Four themes were identified: content (instructor knowledgeable, teaches at level of learner, practical information), learning environment, teacher personal attributes, and teaching methods. Thirty-two descriptors were distinguished across the 36 instruments. Thirteen descriptors were present in 50% or more of the instruments. The most common rating systems were Likert scales and open comments.

Conclusions: Fourth-year medical students can offer an eclectic resource for evaluating teaching in the classroom and the clinic. Using the descriptors that were identified in greater than 50% of the evaluation instruments will provide effective measures that can be incorporated into medical teacher evaluation instruments.

Dr. Pettit is education consultant, Office of Consultation and Research in Medical Education, Carver College of Medicine, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa.

Dr. Axelson is assistant professor, Department of Family Medicine, and consultant for program evaluation, Office of Consultation and Research in Medical Education, Carver College of Medicine, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa.

Dr. Ferguson is professor, Department of Internal Medicine, and director, Office of Consultation and Research in Medical Education, Carver College of Medicine, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa.

Dr. Rosenbaum is professor, Department of Family Medicine, and consultant for faculty development, Office of Consultation and Research in Medical Education, Carver College of Medicine, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa.

Funding/Support: None reported.

Other disclosures: None reported.

Ethical approval: Reported as not applicable.

Correspondence should be addressed to Dr. Pettit, Office of Consultation and Research in Medical Education, Carver College of Medicine, University of Iowa, 500 Newton Rd., Iowa City, IA 52242; telephone: (319) 335-9910; e-mail: jeffrey-pettit@uiowa.edu.

© 2015 by the Association of American Medical Colleges