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Table 7 Positive and negative student comments pertaining to facilitators.

From: What can we learn from facilitator and student perceptions of facilitation skills and roles in the first year of a problem-based learning curriculum?

Facilitation skills


Positive comments

Author's comment

• Helped us get used to the meetings and facilitate group interaction.


• Some direct the sessions well. They give positive input and encourage group members.


• Only once I had a facilitator who always asked us problems we were faced with and would give us feedback about the subject matter. This reinforced our feeling towards the facilitator as being one of us.


• One gets to understand the work that one might have misunderstood.


• Very helpful guides. I have been lucky. All my facilitators were great and stimulated my interest in learning or participating and they encouraged me though sometimes they made me feel like I didn't do my work for Friday, when I came confident.


Personal traits


• Some facilitators genuinely care and always came back with a response.


• Very informative and friendly.


Negative comments


Poorly informed with regard to the curriculum


• They don't understand the problems and formats of timetables and exams. They feel out of place relaying information.


• Some facilitators never report on their facilitator meetings. If they don't know, we don't know.


• Some facilitators misinterpret the information and misinform students.


• Some were too busy to find out anything and others speculated about answers to our questions, e.g. OSCEs.


• Very little feedback – "We are looking into it" is a common response.


• Some facilitator failed to respond to questions related to the notices.


• Facilitators themselves don't often seem to know what is happening. They don't seem to have the BIG PICTURE regarding Curriculum 2001 and its workings.


• They sometimes don't know much about the process of MEDev.


• Facilitators seem to know little about IMPORTANT issues such as formative and summative assessment.


Not enthusiastic


• Some facilitators do not show enthusiasm for the new curriculum/PBL process.


• Sometimes facilitators cannot help us as most of them are not familiar with the present programme.


• Facilitators cannot always do stuff to help.


• Some facilitators have no interest. They sit there, get paid, answer their phones and leave.


Poor facilitator role


• Some notices are read at the end of the meeting when nobody has any interest in them.


• They do not seem to know their role in the PBL process. They are either too subdued or dominated the sessions.


• Some facilitators interfere with the group process.


• There is a problem if the facilitator cannot communicate, if the facilitator is not interested or cannot identify with the group's problem.


• Some make you panic from the first day.


• Some are not well informed on how they should facilitate and so end up telling us everything or nothing.


• Sometimes they did not take us seriously and therefore tended not to give us an opportunity to express ourselves.


• Some of them do not read the notices.


Personal issues


• Some individuals are not as dedicated/approachable as is necessary to facilitate easy interaction between students and staff.


• Cannot address anything personal.


• Sometimes you find the facilitator favours other students.


Other comments


• Some facilitators know less than us.


• The role of the facilitator is very important and it seems to be underestimated by the planners. Some facilitators are a real waste of time whilst others are a key part of the group. How can there be such a variety of attitudes of facilitators when they supposedly all know what to do? Some of them are just unpleasant, boring never enthusiastic, never on time! How can these people be picked to do such an important job? Yes, they are not there to teach but at least be happy and say something or contribute a little. Students get terribly depressed when they hear that M has facilitator X and N has facilitator Y. This should not be the case. Facilitator training should be looked at because something (with our facilitators) went WRONG! Some facilitators are very informed whilst others are just as lost as we are. How can the blind lead the blind? MAYBE at the start of the year, the facilitator's role should have been explained to the students.