21 September 2016
Gibbs and Coffey (2004) have reported that teaching practices are influenced by teachers’ conceptions of learning and teaching. In our previous research we found significant differences between teachers’ conceptions in two medical schools with student-centred education. Medical school was the most important predictor, next to discipline, gender and teaching experience. Our research questions for the current study are (1) which specific elements of medical school explain the effect of medical school on teachers' conceptions of learning and teaching? How? and (2) which contextual and personal characteristics are related to conceptions of learning and teaching? How?
Individual interviews were conducted with 13 teachers of the undergraduate curricula in two medical schools. Previously their conceptions of learning and teaching were assessed with the COLT questionnaire. We investigated the meanings they attached to context and personal characteristics, in relation to their conceptions of learning and teaching. We used a template analysis.
Large individual differences existed between teachers. Characteristics mentioned at the medical school and curriculum level were ‘curriculum tradition’, ‘support by educational department’ and ‘management and finances’. Other contextual characteristics were ‘leadership style’ at all levels but especially of department chairs, ‘affordances and support’, ‘support and relatedness’, and ‘students’ characteristics’. Personal characteristics were ‘agency’, ‘experience with PBL (as a student or a teacher)’,’personal development’, ‘motivation and work engagement’and ‘high content expertise’.
Several context and personal characteristics associated with teachers’ conceptions were identified, enabling a broader view on faculty development with attention for these characteristics, next to teaching skills.