Supporting postgraduate students in their role as clinical teachers: A pilot study.

Tracey Anne Winning, Frances Greenwood, Dimitra Lekkas


In higher education, reliance on part-time teachers, including postgraduate students (PGs), in our undergraduate (UG) programmes is widespread. Dental education is no exception: the bulk of our UG clinical teaching/supervision is provided by casually-employed clinicians. Consistent with reports highlighting the need for professional development for part-time (including PG) teachers, we identified our PGs needed support. This paper describes the programme we developed for our PGs and the initial evaluation. Recommendations from the literature informed our programme design. Evaluation of the programme involved PG-clinical teachers’ perceptions of their experience and analysis of their learning outcomes, using pre- and post-tests. The tests required PG-clinical teachers to identify behaviours related to UG clinical assessment criteria and clinical teacher attributes, and judge the level of performance portrayed in a series of UG clinic video simulations. To check that clinical assessment criteria for UGs and clinical teacher attributes were identifiable, experienced-clinical teachers completed the same tests. Learning from repeated viewing of the test-videos was not evident. It was difficult to identify and/or classify UG clinical assessment criteria in the videos. Both PG- and experienced-clinical teachers identified and classified more clinical teacher attributes than UG clinical assessment criteria. There was some improvement by PG-clinical teachers in identifying and classifying clinical teacher attributes. These data indicated the programme may have contributed to PG-clinical teachers’ learning about their role, but it did not consistently contribute to improved outcomes for evaluating UG performance. Implications for our PG-clinical teaching programme and how we evaluate our UG performance are discussed.

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