Using an objective structured teaching evaluation for faculty development


  • Maria A Wamsley,

  • Katherine A Julian,

  • Margo H Vener,

  • Elizabeth H Morrison

Maria A Wamsley MD, Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, 400 Parnassus, Box 0320, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA. Tel: + 415 502 6220; Fax: + 415 353 7964;

Context and setting Objective structured teaching evaluations (OSTEs) have been utilised to measure effectiveness of educational curricula and for faculty development purposes. Previous studies that have utilised OSTEs for faculty development purposes have given faculty feedback from the perspective of faculty observers rather than from student participants themselves.

Why the change was necessary The quality of clinical faculty teaching is measured traditionally by learner-written evaluations. However, evaluations may relate more to a teacher's charisma or communication style than actual teaching skills. In addition, faculty often feel that they receive limited and delayed feedback about their teaching skills from learners. OSTEs allow faculty to practice teaching skills and obtain immediate, objective feedback on their performance. The OSTE we developed allowed faculty to receive this feedback directly from the trained standardised students.

What was done The OSTE is a half-day workshop consisting of 4 teaching scenarios (orienting a learner, outpatient precepting, bedside teaching and feedback to a learner in difficulty). Third- and fourth-year medical students were recruited and received a 6-hour training to enact a teaching scenario, rated the instructor objectively and provided face-to-face feedback after the encounter. Sixteen faculty from internal medicine, paediatrics and family medicine were recruited to participate in the exercise. All encounters were videotaped and faculty received direct feedback from the standardised student after each encounter. A 1-hour debriefing session emphasised key points and highlighted important aspects of each case. Each faculty participant developed a personal teaching action plan.

Evaluation of result and impact Faculty and student participants evaluated the OSTE experience. Faculty (n = 16) reported that the standardised students gave a realistic performance (mean = 4.33; 1 = strongly disagree, 5 = strongly agree). They felt that feedback from the standardised students was helpful (mean = 4.94) and reported that they were likely to change their teaching practices as a result of the OSTE (mean = 4.69). Faculty rated the overall experience highly (mean = 4.93). Students (n = 18) reported that they felt comfortable providing feedback to faculty (mean = 4.28) and learned useful information about teaching through participation in the OSTE (mean = 4.89). In addition, student participants reported that their interest in teaching increased as a result of participation in the OSTE from a mean of 4.64 prior to the OSTE to 4.78 after the OSTE (1 = very low, 5 = very high). Students rated the overall experience highly (mean = 4.78).

OSTEs can be used successfully for faculty development and students can be taught to provide useful and effective feedback to faculty. Participation in the OSTE has benefits for both student and faculty participants.