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Med Educ. 1999 Jun;33(6):404-10.

Teaching support in the behavioural sciences for non-english speaking background medical undergraduates.

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Department of Psychiatry at the Royal Adelaide Hospital, University of Adelaide, GPO Box 498, South Australia 5005, Australia.



This paper reports on a teaching strategy designed to support first year undergraduate medical students from non-English speaking backgrounds in a behavioural science course taught at an Australian university.


The strategy is described, as is the language profile of students from two successive cohorts who participated in the teaching programme. The effectiveness of the intervention in improving students' academic performance is explored, as gauged by summative assessment and student perceptions.


Findings suggest that students disadvantaged by difficulties with language and/or knowledge of Australian culture were able to perform at least as well as other students on a number of summative criteria. Non-English speaking background students perceived the behavioural science course to be difficult, and indicated that they found the teaching support offered to them to be useful. The methodological difficulties and limitations involved in the evaluation of a teaching programme such as this are discussed and the conclusions that can be validly drawn are considered.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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