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Med Educ. 2005 Feb;39(2):194-201.

Paired basic science and clinical problem-based learning faculty teaching side by side: do students evaluate them differently?

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of California-Davis, Davis, CA 95616, USA.



Many studies have evaluated the desirability of expert versus non-expert facilitators in problem-based learning (PBL), but performance differences between basic science and clinical facilitators has been less studied. In a PBL course at our university, pairs of faculty facilitators (1 clinician, 1 basic scientist) were assigned to student groups to maximise integration of basic science with clinical science.


This study set out to establish whether students evaluate basic science and clinical faculty members differently when they teach side by side.


Online questionnaires were used to survey 188 students about their faculty facilitators immediately after they completed each of 3 serial PBL cases. Overall satisfaction was measured using a scale of 1-7 and yes/no responses were gathered from closed questions describing faculty performance. results: Year 1 students rated basic science and clinical facilitators the same, but Year 2 students rated the clinicians higher overall. Year 1 students rated basic scientists higher in their ability to understand the limits of their own knowledge. Year 2 students rated the clinicians higher in several content expertise-linked areas: preparedness, promotion of in-depth understanding, and ability to focus the group, and down-rated the basic scientists for demonstrating overspecialised knowledge. Students' overall ratings of individual faculty best correlated with the qualities of stimulation, focus and preparedness, but not with overspecialisation, excessive interjection of the faculty member's own opinions, and encouragement of psychosocial issue discussion.


When taught by paired basic science and clinical PBL facilitators, students in Year 1 rated basic science and clinical PBL faculty equally, while Year 2 students rated clinicians more highly overall. The Year 2 difference may be explained by perceived differences in content expertise.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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