Background: By some estimates, the teacher-learner relationship explains roughly half of the variance attributed to the effectiveness of teaching. Despite this, relationships largely have been ignored in the educational literature. Purpose: This qualitative pilot study sought to identify factors in the supervisor-resident relationship that hinder learning among University of Toronto psychiatry residents. Method: Thirteen postgraduate-year residents in Years 2-5 and their supervisors were interviewed regarding interactions that either assisted or adversely affected learning. Results: Qualitative analysis of the interview data led to the identification of 5 types of issues affecting the supervisory relationship: goals and individual differences, communication and feedback, power and rivalry, support and collegiality, and role modeling and expertise. Face validity was supported when typed anonymous written feedback obtained from annual supervisor evaluations also could be organized into the 5 categories. Conclusions: Recognition of the types of interpersonal interactions that assist or hinder learning may contribute to enhanced teaching effectiveness.
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