Clinical Teaching in Education

Assoc Prof Larissa McLean Davies, Dr Nicky Dulfer, Dr Jeana Kriewaldt , Assoc Prof Suzanne Rice, Dr Daniela Acquaro, Dr Christine Redman, Ms Catherine Reid, and Dr Teresa Angelico | View as single page |Feedback/Impact

Developing clinical judgement: the mentor perspective

Clinical judgement develops from processes of gathering and analysing data to diagnose learning needs in order to undertake an intervention (Kriewaldt & Turnidge, 2013). School-based mentor teachers play a vital role as teacher educators in teacher preparation. In initial teacher education the school mentor specifically develops clinical judgement by taking an inquiring stance with the pre-service teacher to encourage the iterative use of data and evidence to answer questions of practice. Mentors use respectful and reciprocal dialogue in which personal assumptions and theories are probed.

At the core of mentoring that develops clinical judgement is a focus on articulating reasoning, which can equally be described as visible thinking. This happens when mentors:

  • think out loud as they work through a situation
  • rehearse judgments with the pre-service teacher “what will you do if…” before a lesson episode 
  • ask the pre-service teacher to articulate their reasons for actions after a lesson episode

By articulating their thinking with reference to evidence, both mentor teachers and pre-service teachers learn to hone their capacity to make clinical judgements. Such judgements are examined and compared with evidence from university studies (Burn & Mutton, 2013).

Probing questions that mentors use that show promise in developing clinical judgment include:

  • What evidence supports this? or How do we know?
  • How does this help to improve learning?
  • Explain why you say that?
  • How does that follow?
  • What were /might be any unintended consequences of the action?

This approach to clinical judgement is designed to inform and challenge teachers to think critically about their practice as is equally relevant at all career stages. It can be applied to the dialogue that occurs between a mentor teachers and their mentee during professional practice, in professional learning communities and in quality teaching rounds (Gore & Bowe, 2015).

Evidence Base and references

Kriewaldt, J., & Turnidge, D. (2013). Conceptualising an approach to clinical reasoning in the education profession. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 38(6). doi: 10.14221/ajte.2013v38n6.9.

Burn, K., & Mutton, T. (2013). Review of 'research-informed clinical practice' in initial teacher education. Paper commissioned by BERA, presented at BERA-RSA Inquiry (London, BERA/RSA).

Gore, J. M., & Bowe, J. M. (2015). Interrupting attrition? Re-shaping the transition from preservice to inservice teaching through Quality Teaching Rounds. International Journal of Educational Research. Advance online publication. doi:10.1016/j.ijer.2015.05.006