An exploration of perceptions of tutor evaluation in problem-based learning tutorials.Med Educ. 2010 Sep; 44(9):892-899.ME
Within problem-based learning (PBL) tutorials, the relationship between student and tutor is predicated on the tutor adopting the role of mentor and metacognitive coach. This rapport differs considerably from the traditional teacher-student relationship and is likely to impact on the process and outcomes of tutor evaluations. Such evaluations are a ubiquitous means of providing feedback to tutors from students about the quality of their facilitation. Although critiqued in the literature as 'popularity contests', tutor evaluations are commonly used in tertiary institutions for purposes of recruitment, re-employment and promotion.
This study seeks to provide insight into students' and tutors' perceptions of evaluations of teaching within PBL tutorials. As a unique teaching and learning environment, the PBL tutorial requires sophisticated facilitation skills of tutors and considerable autonomy from students. Qualitative data were gathered from three focus group discussions and one in-depth interview with first- and second-year medical students and their PBL tutors.
Thematic analysis identified four major themes, including: defining the 'ideal' tutor; making unthinking or deliberately false evaluations; promoting a consumer mentality, and providing support for tutors. An underlying suspicion of the purpose of the evaluation process was apparent among tutors and students.
Findings suggest that, within the PBL tutorial environment at least, regularly evaluating tutors creates mistrust and confusion among the medical school, the tutor and the student on several levels. Suggestions for further research are proposed.