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Improving near-peer teaching quality in anatomy by educating teaching assistants: An example from Sweden

Journal article
Authors Ellen Johansson
Tobias E. Holmin
Bengt R Johansson
Magnus Braide
Published in Anatomical Sciences Education
Volume 11
Issue 4
Pages 403-409
ISSN 1935-9772
Publication year 2018
Published at Institute of Biomedicine
Institute of Biomedicine, Department of Medical Biochemistry and Cell Biology
Institute of Clinical Sciences
Pages 403-409
Language en
Links dx.doi.org/10.1002/ase.1775
Keywords gross anatomy education, undergraduate education, peer-assisted learning, near-peer learning, small group teaching, teaching assistants, students-as-teachers, medical-students, program, Education & Educational Research
Subject categories Anatomy

Abstract

Peer-assisted learning has gained momentum in a variety of disciplines, including medical education. In Gothenburg, Sweden, medical students who have finished their compulsory anatomy courses have the option of working as teaching assistants (TAs). Teaching assistants provide small group teaching sessions as a complement to lectures given by faculty. Previously, TAs were left to handle the role as junior teachers by themselves, but since 2011, a continuation course in anatomy has been developed with the aim of providing the TAs better anatomy knowledge and guidance for teaching. The course was designed to comprise 7.5 ECTS credits (equivalent to 5 weeks of full-time studies), and today all TAs are required to take this course before undertaking their own teaching responsibilities. This study aims to compare course evaluations of TA teaching before and after the introduction of the anatomy continuation course, in order to understand how students perceived teaching performed by self-learned versus trained TAs. The results of this study demonstrate that there was a trend towards better teaching performed by trained TAs. The variability in rankings decreased significantly after the introduction of the continuation course. This was mainly due to an improvement among the TAs with the lowest levels of performance. In addition to comparing student rankings, TAs were interviewed regarding their experiences and perceptions within the continuation course. The course was generally positively regarded. The TAs described a sense of cohesion and appreciation since the institute invested in a course dedicated specifically for them. Anat Sci Educ 11: 403-409. (c) 2018 American Association of Anatomists.

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