The evaluation of student-centredness of teaching and learning: a new mixed-methods approach

Ana R. Lemos1, John E. Sandars2, Palmira Alves3 and Manuel J. Costa1

1School of Health Sciences, University of Minho, Portugal

2Academic Unit of Medical Education, University of Sheffield, UK

3Institute of Education, University of Minho, Portugal

Submitted: 11/06/2013; Accepted: 20/07/2014; Published: 14/08/2014

Int J Med Educ. 2014; 5:157-164; doi: 10.5116/ijme.53cb.8f87

© 2014 Ana R. Lemos et al. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use of work provided the original work is properly cited. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

Objectives: The aim of the study was to develop and consider the usefulness of a new mixed-methods approach to evaluate the student-centredness of teaching and learning on undergraduate medical courses. An essential paradigm for the evaluation was the coherence between how teachers conceptualise their practice (espoused theories) and their actual practice (theories-in-use).

Methods: The context was a module within an integrated basic sciences course in an undergraduate medical degree programme. The programme had an explicit intention of providing a student-centred curriculum. A content analysis framework based on Weimer's dimensions of student-centred teaching was used to analyze data collected from individual interviews with seven teachers to identify espoused theories and 34h of classroom observations and one student focus group to identify theories-in-use. The interviewees were identified by purposeful sampling. The findings from the three methods were triangulated to evaluate the student-centredness of teaching and learning on the course.

Results: Different, but complementary, perspectives of the student-centredness of teaching and learning were identified by each method. The triangulation of the findings revealed coherence between the teachers' espoused theories and theories-in-use.

Conclusions: A mixed-methods approach that combined classroom observations with interviews from a purposeful sample of teachers and students offered a useful evaluation of the extent of student-centredness of teaching and learning of this basic science course. Our case study suggests that this new approach is applicable to other courses in medical education.