Medical Education 2011: 45: 155–165
Context Teaching students in reflection calls for specific teacher competencies. We developed and validated a rating scale focusing on Student perceptions of their Teachers’ competencies to Encourage Reflective Learning in small Groups (STERLinG).
Methods We applied an iterative procedure to reduce an initial list of 241 items pertaining to teacher competencies to 47 items. Subsequently, we validated the instrument in two successive studies. In the first study, we invited 679 medical and speech and language therapy students to assess the teachers of their professional development groups with the STERLinG. Principal components analysis (PCA) with varimax rotation was used to investigate the internal structure of the instrument. In the second study, which involved 791 medical, dental, and speech and language therapy students, we performed a confirmatory factor analysis using the oblique multiple group (OMG) method to verify the original structure.
Results In Study 1, 463 students (68%) completed the STERLinG. The PCA yielded three components: Supporting self-insight; Creating a safe environment, and Encouraging self-regulation. The final 36-item instrument explained 44.3% of the variance and displayed high reliability with α-values of 0.95 for the scale, and 0.91, 0.86 and 0.86 for the respective subscales. In Study 2, 501 students (63%) completed the STERLinG. The OMG confirmed the original structure of the STERLinG and explained 53.0% of the total variance with high α-values of 0.96 for the scale, and 0.94, 0.90 and 0.90 for the respective subscales.
Conclusions The STERLinG is a practical and valid tool for gathering student perceptions of their teachers’ competencies to facilitate reflective learning in small groups considering its stable structure, the correspondence of the STERLinG structure with educational theories and the coverage of important domains of reflection. In addition, our study may provide a theoretical framework for the practice of and research into reflective learning.