To teach or not to teach? Assessing medical school faculty motivation to teach in the era of curriculum reform

Elizabeth R. Hanson, Eric A. Gantwerker, Deborah A. Chang, Ameet S. Nagpal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Medical schools have undergone a period of continual curricular change in recent years, particularly with regard to pre-clinical education. While these changes have many benefits for students, the impact on faculty is less clear. Methods: In this study, faculty motivation to teach in the pre-clinical medical curriculum was examined using self-determination theory (SDT) as a framework. Basic science and clinical faculty were surveyed on factors impacting their motivation to teach using validated scales of motivation as well as open-ended questions which were coded using self-determination theory (SDT) as a guiding framework. Results: Faculty reported that teaching activities often meet their basic psychological needs of competence, autonomy, and relatedness. Professors were more likely than associate professors to report that teaching met their need for autonomy. Faculty were more motivated by intrinsic as compared to external factors, although basic science faculty were more likely than clinical faculty to be motivated by external factors. Motivating and de-motivating factors fell into the themes Resources, Recognition and Rewards, Student Factors, Self-Efficacy, Curriculum, Contribution, and Enjoyment. The majority of factors tied to the faculty’s need for relatedness. Based on these findings, a conceptual model for understanding medical school faculty motivation to teach was developed. Conclusions: Assessing faculty motivation to teach provided valuable insights into how faculty relate to their teaching roles and what factors influence them to continue in those roles. This information may be useful in guiding future faculty development and research efforts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number363
JournalBMC Medical Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • Curriculum
  • Faculty development
  • Medical education
  • Pre-clinical
  • Self-determination theory
  • Teaching motivation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


Dive into the research topics of 'To teach or not to teach? Assessing medical school faculty motivation to teach in the era of curriculum reform'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this