Original Research

Acquisition of pedagogical knowledge by instructors of veterinary medicine

Jacob M. Shivley
Transformation in Higher Education | Vol 4 | a54 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/the.v4i0.54 | © 2019 Jacob M. Shivley | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 19 July 2018 | Published: 27 February 2019

About the author(s)

Jacob M. Shivley, Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Mississippi State University, United States


Background: When practitioners of veterinary medicine enter academia as faculty or clinical instructors, they are asked to perform research, provide service and outreach, and educate students, yet the teaching component is a struggle for many. It has been posited that academic clinicians develop a teaching style similar to those they observed while in school but this has not been confirmed with empirical evidence.

Aim: The aim of this research was to determine how veterinary instructors obtained pedagogical knowledge prior to their faculty appointment.

Setting: The sample consisted of veterinary faculty at a college of veterinary medicine from the southeastern United States. The land-grant university that the veterinary school is associated with is one of only a few schools to earn both research and community engagement rankings from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

Methods: Online surveys were administered to a stratified sample of veterinary faculty and instructors. A mixed-methods approach was utilised to collect and analyse both close-ended and open-ended data. A coding process provided labels for emerging themes, concepts and examples and each research question was answered with descriptive detail.

Results: Descriptive results showed that most instructors (93%) did not receive formal teacher training but derived their pedagogical knowledge from role models prior to teaching. Many faculty members (70%) attended university-sponsored workshops offered by their institutions to build upon and improve their teaching skills.

Conclusion: Overarching themes reflected observational learning in situ and a general emphasis on non-cognitive skill development, particularly regarding interpersonal skills.


veterinary medical education; veterinary medicine; pedagogical content knowledge; faculty development; clinical teaching


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