Tutoring in problem-based learning medical curricula: the influence of tutor background and style on effectiveness
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Background: Evidence for the superiority of particular characteristics in PBL tutors in medical curricula is generally inconclusive. Most studies have investigated the effectiveness of content experts compared with that of non-experts as measured either by student satisfaction or academic achievement. A few have compared academic staff tutors with student tutors. The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between students' perception of overall tutor effectiveness, particular tutor behaviours, clinical qualifications and academic appointment. Method: A questionnaire designed to evaluate particular aspects of PBL tutoring technique, related either to subject-matter knowledge or to process-facilitation skill, as well as overall effectiveness, was distributed to students in first year of a PBL medical program at the end of each of three tutor terms. A total of 76 tutor terms were included in the study. Data analysis compared clinical with non-clinical tutors, and staff with non-staff tutors. Results: Clinically qualified tutors used their subject-matter knowledge significantly more than non-clinical tutors and were seen as being more empathic with their students. Staff tutors placed more emphasis on assessment than non-staff tutors and were seen as having greater skill in establishing and maintaining an environment of cooperation within their PBL groups than non-staff tutors. Conclusion: These results suggest that both subject-matter knowledge and process-facilitation skills are necessary but not individually sufficient characteristics of effective tutors.
BMC Medical Education
© 2005 Groves et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.