Original Research

Physiotherapy students’ perceptions of the dual role of the clinical educator as mentor and assessor: Influence on the teaching–learning relationship

Ilse S. Meyer, Alwyn Louw, Dawn Ernstzen
South African Journal of Physiotherapy | Vol 73, No 1 | a349 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajp.v73i1.349 | © 2017 Ilse S. Meyer, Alwyn Louw, Dawn Ernstzen | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 01 August 2016 | Published: 27 July 2017

About the author(s)

Ilse S. Meyer, Centre for Health Professions Education, Division of Physiotherapy, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
Alwyn Louw, Centre for Health Professions Education, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
Dawn Ernstzen, Centre for Health Professions Education, Division of Physiotherapy, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, South Africa

Abstract

Background: Clinical education is widely considered to be the cornerstone of health care professionals’ education. Clinical educators (CEs) fulfil many roles and act as both mentors and assessors in the learning process of students’ undergraduate health care professions education. However, changing from being a mentor to being an assessor may present particular challenges for both the CE and the students.
Objective: To explore students’ perceptions of how the dual role of a CE as mentor and assessor influenced the teaching–learning (T-L) relationship.
Method: A qualitative descriptive study, involving seven individual semi-structured interviews and two focus group discussions, was conducted with students in the Division of Physiotherapy, Stellenbosch University. A contextualised interpretive content analysis was used to analyse the data. By following an iterative process, themes were identified and categories were reviewed and refined.
Results: Challenges were experienced when CEs had to act and change as both mentors and assessors to the needs of the students. This influenced the T-L relationship and consequently impacted the learning of students. The expectations of students and CEs were often not fulfilled. Contradictions were disclosed regarding the dual role of CEs.
Conclusion: The findings of the study, grounded in the perceptions and experiences of students on the dual role of the CE, are highlighted. It is important to consider the challenges that the students face in order to minimise any negative effects these challenges could have on students’ learning processes.

Keywords

Dual role of Clinical Educator; Clinical Education; Teaching-Learning relationship; Perceptions

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