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Peer pressure? How styles of verbal interaction affect student satisfaction: a pilot study

Lookup NU author(s): Dr James Field, Rebecca Wassall


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Introduction This pilot study aimed to determine if patterns of verbal interaction with a clinician could affect student satisfaction during a clinical encounter. Dental clinical educators are faced with the unique challenge of providing a quality teaching experience for students whilst, at the same time, ensuring quality of care and appropriate levels of service provision within the National Health Service (NHS). Time is limited, and it is important to impart the necessary information and check knowledge and understanding where appropriate. The student’s experience of the clinical encounter has the potential to be extremely valuable – an opportunity to problem solve and experiment that’s almost unique to dentistry. Student satisfaction is an extremely important part of the University’s mission. Despite an abundance of learning theories and direction from educational institutions, the reality is that little is known about how clinical teachers actually teach. Even less is known about how clinical teaching styles relate to student satisfaction. Satisfaction of our students is not just about the ‘characteristics of a good teacher’ but about the ‘process’ of teaching that necessarily reflects concepts of adult learning. Excellent teachers have the potential to elicit the learning needs of different levels of learners; important reported traits include mutual respect, discussing expectations, explaining and reasoning and actively involving students. This study aimed to investigate whether patterns of verbal communication with clinical teachers affected levels of student satisfaction. Methods How were verbal interactions recorded? Verbal Interaction Analysis (VIA) is a form of behaviour analysis. It is based on an observational template that records verbal interaction between subjects at intervals. As well as recording the style of interaction, the record is also temporal; this allows more detailed analysis to be carried out and statements to be made that further qualify the interaction. How was student satisfaction assessed? An immediate questionnaire allowed the students to rate their level of satisfaction with the clinical encounter. The questionnaire was administered in a standardised fashion, and the response rate was100% (students were asked to respond immediately). In order to simplify data collection and analysis, the questionnaire was based on pre-coded responses. Data was assessed quantitatively and was linked to the VIA data in order to investigate early patterns or trends. Findings The results indicated that praise and the acceptance of student ideas are required to offset any criticism, and the encounter seems to require structure from the clinician with an emphasis on indirect influence (questions, using student ideas, acceptance and praise) rather than just lecturing. Preferred patterns of interaction were clearly evident. Interestingly the results correlate with findings from other educational environments, suggesting that satisfaction is also about 'quality of life' and mutual respect. Conclusion Perhaps a more collaborative clinical 'teacher' should replace the traditional clinical 'lecturer' in order to improve our student satisfaction.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Field J, Wassall R

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: 3 Rivers Educational Conference

Year of Conference: 2013