Understanding teaching and learning conceptions among clinical faculty as a means to improve postgraduate training

Jaime L. Pacifico*, Jeroen Donkers, Johanna Jacobs, Cees van der Vleuten, Sylvia Heeneman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objective: This study aimed to determine the conceptions of teaching and learning of postgraduate medical teachers.

Methods: We invited postgraduate clinical teachers to fill out COLT (Conceptions on Learning and Teaching) questionnaire, an 18-item instrument designed to measure the conceptions of faculty in undergraduate medical education, and did a confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) to test if it was valid to be used in a postgraduate situation. Cluster analysis was done to determine different teacher profiles. We subsequently did a qualitative study among 12 clinical teachers to further explore issues related to conceptions of teaching. We used a semi-structured interview guide with vignettes summarizing five perspectives of teaching.

Results: Four criteria of goodness of fit indices were met, although six items had to be removed from the original COLT items. Three clusters were identified, and 51% of participants favored a transmission teaching-style perspective. For the qualitative part, three themes were identified. Majority of the teachers preferred apprenticeship and nurturing teaching-style perspective, even if they were educated through a transmission teaching-style perspective.

Conclusions: Our study has shown that the COLT, although initially designed for undergraduate medical setting in the Netherlands was a valid tool in a different setting and population, with some modifications. Both the survey and the interview studies showed that the majority of the faculty chose the transmission perspective initially, but when introduced to the other perspectives, preferred apprenticeship and nurturing. The faculty readily embraced other perspectives of teaching that they believe to take into consideration the wellbeing of the trainees.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-185
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Medical Education
Publication statusPublished - 28 Aug 2020


  • Postgraduate
  • clinical teachers
  • conceptions
  • teaching
  • learning


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