Does tutor subject-matter expertise influence student achievement in the problem based learning curriculum at UNITRA medical school?
Objective. To establish whether or not tutor subject-matter expertise influences student achievement in content-based examinations in the problem-based learning (PBL) curriculum at the University of Transkei (UNITRA) Medical School.
Design. A retrospective study of MB ChB III student achievement in end-of-block modified essay questions (MEQ) examinations in microbiology, pathology and pharmacology for the years 1994 - 1999, inclusive. Pooled scores from the expert-tutored groups were compared with those from the groups tutored by non-experts using analysis of variance (ANOVA) or t-test. Subject expert tutors were those with postgraduate specialisation in the given discipline.
Setting. The Medical School, Faculty of Health Sciences, UNITRA, Umtata.
Outcome measures. Whether pooled mean MEQ scores in end-of-block examinations for microbiology, pathology or pharmacology differ according to the subject-matter expertise of the tutor.
Results. There were no significant differences in mean scores obtained for pharmacology (51.1 ± 0.6 versus 52.6 ± 0.7, P = 0.109) and pathology (49.8 ± 0.6 versus 49.9 ± 0.8, P = 0.919). The difference between the scores in microbiology was small (3 percentage points) but statistically significant, with the groups tutored by microbiologists scoring higher than those tutored by pathologists or pharmacologists (54.1 ± 1.0 versus 51.2 ± 0.8, P = 0.032).
Conclusions. These data demonstrate that in the UNITRA Medical School PBL curriculum tutor subject-matter expertise has little or no influence on student achievement in the discrete areas of tutor expertise.
Copyright remains in the Author’s name. The work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial Works License. Authors are required to complete and sign an Author Agreement form that outlines Author and Publisher rights and terms of publication. The Agreement form should be uploaded along with other submissions files and any submission will be considered incomplete without it [forthcoming].
Material submitted for publication in the SAMJ is accepted provided it has not been published or submitted for publication elsewhere. Please inform the editorial team if the main findings of your paper have been presented at a conference and published in abstract form, to avoid copyright infringement. The SAMJ does not hold itself responsible for statements made by the authors.
Previously published images
If an image/figure has been previously published, permission to reproduce or alter it must be obtained by the authors from the original publisher and the figure legend must give full credit to the original source. This credit should be accompanied by a letter indicating that permission to reproduce the image has been granted to the author/s. This letter should be uploaded as a supplementary file during submission.