Third-year medical students' perceptions of effective teaching behaviors in a multidisciplinary ambulatory clerkship

Acad Med. 2003 Aug;78(8):815-9. doi: 10.1097/00001888-200308000-00016.


Purpose: The authors sought third-year medical students' perceptions of ambulatory preceptors' teaching effectiveness across primary care disciplines.

Methods: Third-year students at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine spent three-week rotations each in ambulatory internal medicine, pediatrics, family medicine, and an elective. After the 12-week clerkship, students anonymously evaluated the full-time and volunteer preceptors using a five-point Likert-type evaluation (1 = hardly at all; 5 = to a great degree) that had eight items addressing preceptor teaching behaviors, six items on attaining clerkship goals and an assessment of overall teaching effectiveness, the outcome variable of interest.

Results: The authors analyzed 276 evaluation forms (58% response rate) collected from July 2001 to June 2002. They found a mean effectiveness rating of 4.4 (SD.9) and no differences between genders, specialties, and faculty appointment types (p >.2 for each). The 14 items were associated with teaching effectiveness in univariate analysis (p <.01 for each). In multivariate analyses, effectiveness was associated with four preceptor behaviors: inspired confidence in medical skills, explained decisions, treated students with respect, and provided a role model (R(2) =.33). Effectiveness was associated with three items about attaining clerkship goals: allowed opportunity for improving clinical skills, practiced ethical medicine, and encouraged evidence-based medicine (R(2) =.20).

Conclusions: Several teaching behaviors and measures of attaining clerkship goals influenced students' perceptions of teaching effectiveness. Involving students in a humanistic but rigorous approach to medicine and being a physician students wanted to emulate seem particularly important. These aspects appear potentially amenable to faculty development efforts.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ambulatory Care*
  • Behavior
  • Clinical Clerkship*
  • Family Practice / education*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internal Medicine / education*
  • Male
  • Pediatrics / education*
  • Perception*
  • Preceptorship
  • Professional Role
  • Students, Medical*
  • Teaching*
  • Time Factors