First year clinical tutorials: students’ learning experience
Authors Burgess A, Oates K, Goulston K, Mellis C
Received 28 August 2014
Accepted for publication 8 October 2014
Published 28 November 2014 Volume 2014:5 Pages 451—456
Checked for plagiarism Yes
Review by Single-blind
Peer reviewer comments 4
Editor who approved publication: Dr Anwarul Azim Majumder
Annette Burgess,1 Kim Oates,2 Kerry Goulston,2 Craig Mellis1
1Central Clinical School, Sydney Medical School, The University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia; 2Sydney Medical School, The University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia
Background: Bedside teaching lies at the heart of medical education. The learning environment afforded to students during clinical tutorials contributes substantially to their knowledge, thinking, and learning. Situated cognition theory posits that the depth and breadth of the students' learning experience is dependent upon the attitude of the clinical teacher, the structure of the tutorial, and the understanding of tutorial and learning objectives. This theory provides a useful framework to conceptualize how students' experience within their clinical tutorials impacts their knowledge, thinking, and learning.
Methods: The study was conducted with one cohort (n=301) of students who had completed year 1 of the medical program at Sydney Medical School in 2013. All students were asked to complete a three-part questionnaire regarding their perceptions of their clinical tutor's attributes, the consistency of the tutor, and the best features of the tutorials and need for improvement. Both quantitative and qualitative data were collected and analyzed using descriptive statistics.
Results: The response rate to the questionnaire was 88% (265/301). Students perceived that their tutors displayed good communication skills and enthusiasm, encouraged their learning, and were empathetic toward patients. Fifty-two percent of students reported having the same communications tutor for the entire year, and 28% reported having the same physical examination tutor for the entire year. Students would like increased patient contact, greater structure within their tutorials, and greater alignment of teaching with the curriculum.
Conclusion: Situated cognition theory provides a valuable lens to view students' experience of learning within the clinical environment. Our findings demonstrate students' appreciation of clinical tutors as role models, the need for consistency in feedback, the importance of structure within tutorials, and the need for tutors to have an understanding of the curriculum and learning objectives for each teaching session.
Keywords: bedside teaching, clinical tutorials, role modeling, situated cognition
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