Managing Underperforming Trainees

Subject MEDS90014 (2015)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2015.

Credit Points: 12.5
Level: 9 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2015:

February, Hawthorn - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period 09-Feb-2015 to 08-May-2015
Assessment Period End 29-May-2015
Last date to Self-Enrol 26-Feb-2015
Census Date 06-Mar-2015
Last date to Withdraw without fail 24-Apr-2015

Intensive delivery

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 8 hours (intensive delivery)
Total Time Commitment:

170 hours per 12.5 credit point subject.


To enrol in this subject, you must be admitted in GC-SURGED, GD-SURGED or MC-SURGED. This subject is not available for students admitted in any other courses.

Study Period Commencement:
Credit Points:
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering requests for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Commonwealth 2005), and Students Experiencing Academic Disadvantage Policy, academic requirements for this course are articulated in the Course Overview, Objectives and Generic Skills sections of this entry.

It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study, and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student's participation in the University's programs. Students who feel their disability may impact on meeting the requirements of this course are encouraged to discuss this matter with a Faculty Student Adviser and the Disability Liaison Unit:


School of Melbourne Custom Programs

Award Programs Team

Program Coordinator - Gemma Hughes

Phone - +61 3 9810 3253


Subject Overview:

Managing student performance can be challenging at many levels. Poorly performing or dis-engaged students may increase clinical risk, require intensive support, negatively impact teamwork both in the classroom and in the workplace, reduce productivity and lower morale. A recent survey at the College identified that identification and management of poorly performing trainees was one of surgical educators’ greatest challenges. This subject has been developed to provide surgical educators with the tools and skills to minimise the likelihood of students under-performing and to provide strategies to manage such students when they are identified. This subject explores ways to support trainees who are not progressing as expected. This is an opportunity to develop high level skills in learner-centred education. Theory and skills acquired in core subjects are applied in the context of managing the under performing trainee. In some ways this subject is an extended ‘master class’ in learner-centred support. Unlike many other professions, underperforming surgical trainees in the workplace can increase patient safety risk. Surgical educators need to be actively involved in strategies to engage their students, to identify and develop strategies to manage students experiencing difficulties and to balance trainee educational needs with safe clinical practice.

The overall aims of this subject are:

  • To explore and understand typical characteristics and motivations of underperforming students
  • To develop teaching strategies that encourage participation
  • To identify and implement a range of educational methods to support and manage underperforming students
Learning Outcomes:

After completing the subject participants will be able to:

  1. Develop teaching and learning strategies that will maximise student engagement
  2. Identify characteristics of underperforming trainees with emphasis on recognition of early warning signs
  3. Outline and implement a range of supportive educational methods
  4. Refine verbal and written skills for providing feedback to underperforming trainees
  5. Practice effective learner-centred observation and feedback
  6. Design learning activities for an underperforming trainee
  • Experiential – (Students complete two exercises in the provision of support for underperforming trainees) Hurdle assessment on the study day. The aim of this assessment is to provide students with an opportunity to provide verbal and written feedback to an underperforming trainee. This extends skills explored in Subject 2. The high stakes of the consequences for ‘underperforming trainees’ means that students must extend their knowledge and performance of skills from Subject 2.
  • Essay – 1500 words (mid semester) 30%. This assessment examines students’ ability to reflect on and rationalise their skills in the hurdle assessment.
  • Essay (Design a learning activity for an underperforming trainee) – 3500 words (end of semester) 70% (This assessment provides an opportunity for students to develop learning activities for an underperforming trainee. Like the hurdle assessment, the students’ knowledge and skills from subjects 2 & 4 will be extended. It is also an opportunity to draw on content covered in elective subjects)
Prescribed Texts:

Reading materials online

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:
  • Communication strategies for students in difficulty
  • Curriculum and teaching strategies to encourage student participation
  • Study skills related to a range of educational methods
  • Academic reading skills
  • Academic writing
  • Applying theory to practice
  • Reference manager skills
  • Work effectively within a small group
  • Learn independently
Links to further information:

IT requirements:

Participants will require access to the internet with a minimum connection speed of 256Kbps to access course materials and to participate in on-line discussions and presentations forums. Faster connection speeds are preferred. Participants will also need to verify that their internet connection is configured to allow them to view streamed audio and video files. Test files will be made available for students to test their connections.

Participants are expected to have a headset and microphone connected to their computer for participation in on-line activities.

Participants will be expected to have access to the following Microsoft Office products to fully participate:

  • MS Word
  • MS Powerpoint

All online applications will be web-based and no special software is required.

Related Course(s): Graduate Diploma in Surgical Education
Master of Surgical Education

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