Introduction and evaluation of a Peer Observation of Teaching scheme to develop the teaching practice of chair-side clinical dentistry tutors

Cairns, Alison M. (2018) Introduction and evaluation of a Peer Observation of Teaching scheme to develop the teaching practice of chair-side clinical dentistry tutors. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Glasgow Dental School (GDS) offers a varied learning environment for well-motivated, high-achieving students. These students, along with institutional, professional and public stakeholders, demand high quality, efficient, effective and modern teaching practices.
A new undergraduate curriculum was introduced at GDS; a more authentic learning experience was to be delivered with a move away from traditional teaching based solely within the dental hospital. Outreach teaching facilities were introduced and a cohort of NHS clinical tutors joined academic staff. Both new and old staff were required to develop their teaching skills.
Some tutors expressed distress at the lack of availability of training to enhance teaching skills, and implementation of a Peer Observation of Teaching Scheme (POT) was considered as a way to address this issue.
POT focuses on providing opportunities for staff to improve their teaching skills. It can be conducted successfully with inexperienced teaching staff and limited resources. It can help identify and eliminate poor teaching practice while enabling participants to develop their skills, self-identity and group identity as teachers.
POT, in this study, is a reciprocal process whereby one peer observes another teaching and provides supportive and constructive feedback. Its underlying rationale is to encourage professional development in teaching and learning through critical reflection, by both the observer and the observed.
In this thesis, I outline the implementation of the POT scheme across clinical sites at GDS. The study involved multiple stakeholders and therefore required approval, accommodation and support across six geographically diverse Scottish health board areas.
The process and outcomes from the evaluation of the POT scheme are presented. The current body of published research offers little in relation to POT for the development of teaching chair-side clinical dentistry, a distinct area where students carry out multiple invasive procedures on patients during each teaching session. Appraisal of the scheme and its impact was conducted using evaluation methodology underpinned by constructivist epistemology. Ethical approval was sought and granted.
Results describe motivations to teach and evaluation of the POT process in relation to its authenticity, acceptability and practicality. Analysis of who is truly considered a ‘peer’ as well as aspects of trust, honesty and respect are presented along with the perceived issues for colleagues sharing critical feedback. Impact of the POT scheme is explored in terms of teaching, reflection, increased self-awareness, and lessons learned about personal teaching practice. There is a strong focus on the role of POT for quality enhancement. Key issues highlighted by the findings include; the notable differences between participants from a range of academic backgrounds; study limitations; and feasible alternatives for the development of teaching staff.
The POT scheme was successfully implemented and analysed. It was an authentic method for encouraging reflection and development of teaching practice.
Recommendations for further progress are outlined. These include whether POT should be mandatory; how to facilitate wider group discussion; systems for implementation of shared good practice; and increasing access to teaching qualifications. Further research is required to directly measure the impact of POT on student learning and look at how the scheme has impacted on development of the wider community of practice.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Peer observation of teaching, clinical tutor development, reflection, feedback, professional identity, community of practice, professionalization of teaching, quality enhancement, who is a peer, reflective practice, conversations about teaching, increasing self awareness in teaching.
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education
R Medicine > RK Dentistry
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Education
Supervisor's Name: Bovill, Dr. Catherine and Bissell, Professor Vince
Date of Award: 2018
Depositing User: Dr Alison M Cairns
Unique ID: glathesis:2018-38918
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 09 Nov 2018 14:11
Last Modified: 29 Jan 2019 08:41

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