The role of the teacher in remediating at-risk medical students

Med Teach. 2012;34(11):e732-42. doi: 10.3109/0142159X.2012.689447. Epub 2012 Jun 4.


Background: Previous work identified complex ingredients of a remediation programme for at-risk medical students: mandatory, stable, facilitated small groups promote both cognitive and affective developments, with improved self-regulation, metacognition and reflection resulting in significant performance gains.

Aim: We explore the teachers' role in this intervention, aiming to expand and deepen understanding of remediation methods in medical education.

Methods: Extensive qualitative data from student surveys and in-depth teacher interviews, along with quantitative student performance data, produced a rich description of remediation processes.

Results: Remediation should support emotional needs and foster cognitive and metacognitive skills for self-regulation and critical thinking. Teachers of remediation need to motivate, critique, challenge and advise their learners, applying teaching and contextual expertise in a constructivist, student-centred environment that fosters curiosity and joy for learning. Teachers of remediation can mediate these processes through embodiment of five core roles: facilitator, nurturing mentor, disciplinarian, diagnostician and modeller of desired skills, attitudes and behaviours.

Conclusion: Remediation of struggling medical students can be achieved through a cognitive apprenticeship within a small community of inquiry that motivates and challenges the students. This community needs teachers capable of performing a unique combination of roles that demands high levels of teaching presence and practical wisdom.

MeSH terms

  • Affect
  • Cognition
  • Faculty, Medical / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Professional Role*
  • Risk Factors
  • Students, Medical*
  • Teaching / methods*