Assessing Student Knowledge

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Assessing Student Knowledge:

Questioning is a primary mechanism for assessing student knowledge. Quirk (1994) suggests that there is a spectrum of teaching styles that reflects the mode of questioning and the manner in which information is given. See Table 2.

Table 2 : Teaching Styles

Asks Leading Questions
Elicits/Accepts Learner Ideas
Elicits/Accepts Learner Feelings
Asks Direct Questions
Offers Opinions
Explores Learner Ideas
Offers Feelings
Gives Factual Information
Facilitates Clinical Thinking
Facilitates Clinical Thinking
Promotes Learner Reflection

These styles vary from the more teacher centered, assertive style, to a suggestive style where the teacher is still structuring the interaction but instead of simply providing information, is leading the student down a certain path through the line of questioning. The next style- collaborative - is even more student centered with acceptance and exploration of the student's ideas. In this case, the student is the person organizing information. The most student centered style in this model is the facilitative style, where the exchange extends beyond the clinical content to the feelings of student and preceptor.

Assessing Student Knowledge: (cont.)

Questions 7-12 from the Teaching Style Self Assessment tool explore your comfort with these teaching styles. Look at each of the questions below and identify which teaching style is represented.:

Question 7: "What is the drug of choice for ___________?"

This question addresses the assertive style, asking for very specific information.

Question 8: "Amoxicillin is an option for that purpose, but what other options might be better due to increases in resistance patterns?"

This is a suggestive statement; the student is being led down the clinical thought process through the line of questioning.

Question 9: "How did you arrive at that diagnosis and why?"

Question 10: "O.K. So your working diagnosis for this patient is ______. What plan would you recommend and why?"

Both of these questions explore the student's ideas for their decision. This is a very useful assessment technique, as it allows the teacher to assess not only if the answer itself is right or wrong, but the process by which that answer was arrived.

Question 11: "What if the x-ray were normal? Would that change your diagnosis?"

This questioning technique varies a clinical situation in order to assess other aspects of the student's knowledge. It still falls under the collaborative style.

Question 12: "Mr. Clyburn shared some difficult information about his illness with you. How did that make you feel?"

This question falls under the facilitative style, discussing the feelings elicited in a patient encounter. In this case, the student's experiences are what is most important and they drive the interaction.

Make a mental note of which teaching style(s) you prefer. Are there any syles that you would like to experiement more with to expand your teaching repertoire?

Module 2: Teaching and Learning Styles