Much of the research in medical education is performed through the use of self-reporting questionnaires. Although this can be a valid way to conduct research, little effort has been made to examine the fit between what teachers self-report and what they actually do. In an attempt to investigate this, the authors interviewed 47 preclinical faculty members at two large medical schools in 1990. The faculty members were initially given a questionnaire asking them to self-report in four categories: interactive skills; knowledge or abilities they considered important for students to develop; factors that influenced their curriculum development; and sources from which they sought pedagogical assistance. This was followed by four written simulations that examined four areas of teaching: small-group discussions, course design, lecturing, and test construction. In addition, the authors specifically sought to identify any differences in teaching philosophy and practice between those preclinical faculty who were physicians and those who were not, as well as any interinstitutional differences. Although in certain instances there was a strong correlation between self-reporting and performance as measured by a simulated teaching scenario, in most instances the correlation was quite low. Consequently, the authors suggest that researchers must be careful in their use of self-reporting as a means of assessing teaching behavior, and that whenever possible, researchers should observe the teachers they are studying.
Created Date: 17 September 1992; Completed Date: 17 September 1992; Revised Date: 18 December 2000
© 1992 Association of American Medical Colleges