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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Teachers' ideas versus experts' descriptions of 'the good teacher' in postgraduate medical education: implications for implementation. A qualitative study

Thea CM van Roermund1*, Fred Tromp2, Albert JJA Scherpbier3, Ben JAM Bottema4 and Herman J Bueving5

Author Affiliations

1 Department Primary and Community Care, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, Nijmegen, Postbus 9101, Route number 166, 6500 HB Nijmegen, the Netherlands

2 Department Primary and Community Care Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, Nijmegen, the Netherlands

3 Institute for Medical Education, Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Maastricht University, Maastricht, the Netherlands

4 Department Primary and Community Care, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, Nijmegen, the Netherlands

5 Department of Post Graduate Medical Training for Family Medicine, ErasmusMC, University Medical Center Rotterdam, Rotterdam, the Netherlands

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BMC Medical Education 2011, 11:42  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-11-42

Published: 28 June 2011

Abstract

Background

When innovations are introduced in medical education, teachers often have to adapt to a new concept of what being a good teacher includes. These new concepts do not necessarily match medical teachers' own, often strong beliefs about what it means to be a good teacher.

Recently, a new competency-based description of the good teacher was developed and introduced in all the Departments of Postgraduate Medical Education for Family Physicians in the Netherlands. We compared the views reflected in the new description with the views of teachers who were required to adopt the new framework.

Methods

Qualitative study. We interviewed teachers in two Departments of Postgraduate Medical Education for Family Physicians in the Netherlands. The transcripts of the interviews were analysed independently by two researchers, who coded and categorised relevant fragments until consensus was reached on six themes. We investigated to what extent these themes matched the new description.

Results

Comparing the teachers' views with the concepts described in the new competency-based framework is like looking into two mirrors that reflect clearly dissimilar images. At least two of the themes we found are important in relation to the implementation of new educational methods: the teachers' identification and organisational culture. The latter plays an important role in the development of teachers' ideas about good teaching.

Conclusions

The main finding of this study is the key role played by the teachers' feelings regarding their professional identity and by the local teaching culture in shaping teachers' views and expectations regarding their work. This suggests that in implementing a new teaching framework and in faculty development programmes, careful attention should be paid to teachers' existing identification model and the culture that fostered it.