#KEYLIME PODCAST #169: Gender bias in student evaluations of clinical teachers??

Student evaluations of teaching faculty (SETs) may be used: to assess teaching quality; to guide decisions about reappointment; academic advancement; pay; recognition (e.g. awards). Outside medicine studies suggest links between perceived quality of instruction and teacher attractiveness and ‘easiness’, and female gender linked to less favorable SETs. Read on, and check out the podcast here (or on iTunes!)

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KeyLIME Session 169:

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Read the episode abstract here.

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Reference:

Morgan HK1,2, Purkiss JA2,3, Porter AC4, Lypson ML2,5, Santen SA2,6, Christner JG7, Grum CM8, and Hammoud MM1,2. Student evaluation of faculty physicians: gender differences in teaching evaluations. Journal of Women’s Health.25,5. 453-456. (2016).

Author Institutions:

Departments of 1-Obstetrics and Gynecology and 2-Learning Health Sciences, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

3-The Office of Medical Student Education, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Michigan. 4-Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri. Departments of 5-Internal Medicine and 6-Emergency Medicine, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Michigan. 7-Department of Pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas. 8-Department of Internal Medicine, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Reviewer: Linda Snell (@LindaSMedED)

Background

Student evaluations of teaching faculty (SETs) may be used:

-to assess teaching quality

-to guide decisions about reappointment, academic advancement, pay

-recognition (e.g. awards).

Outside medicine studies suggest links between perceived quality of instruction and teacher attractiveness and ‘easiness’, and female gender linked to less favorable SETs.

In med ed, modifiable attributes of teachers associated with favorable SET: enthusiasm, interactivity, competence, patient relationships, etc. (Irby and others).

Non-modifiable attributes like gender not well evaluated in medicine.

Many variables, including learner gender, the context, ‘‘gendered expectations’’ about the appropriate comportment for their teachers, teacher’s field of expertise can contribute to disparate findings of small studies.

Purpose

‘To investigate whether a difference exists in clinical medical students’ evaluations of male and female physician faculty on four required clinical rotations.’

Key Points on Method

Authors analyzed ratings of overall teaching quality for significant differences based on the gender of both the physician faculty and the medical student evaluator.

-4 of 7 required clerkship rotations: ObGyn, surgery, IM, peds.

Data collected for 5 years from the confidential web-based student evaluation ‘Clinical Teaching assessment’ one item “overall quality of teaching”, rated Likert 15 poor to excellent.

Used a linear mixed effect model, models a relationship when input is of varying types to correct for non-independence (here students evaluate many teachers, teachers evaluated by many students).

Ran model for each discipline.


Key Outcomes

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Female physicians received lower scores on the item ‘‘Overall quality of teaching’’ in all rotations.

Discrepancy was largest in surgery > pediatrics > obstetrics and gynecology> internal medicine

No differences in evaluations based on medical student gender.

Of note, faculty age, seniority not looked at (student m:f ratio equal, but likely not faculty

 

Key Conclusions

The authors conclude that “female faculty physicians received lower evaluations in four clinical rotations. The discrepancy was present in both surgical and nonsurgical clerkships and in both male- and female-predominant specialties. There was no difference in faculty evaluations based on medical student gender.”

A small discrepancy (0.09) is unlikely to be the sole contributor of a decision to promote an individual, yet teaching quality is becoming increasingly important in decision-making re promotion and awards.

Suggest future work looking at other non-modifiable variables, and evaluating ‘unconscious biases.’

Authors suggest faculty development for female faculty (!) and measures to raise student awareness.

Spare Keys – other take home points for clinician educators

Great conclusions should not be based on one question!

Type of Paper

Research

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