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.