Dealing with Difficult Students: The Slow, the Rude and the Uncaring

This module is not available for AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™

Category: Education Fundamentals

This module addresses the classic three types of difficult learners, defining the behavior, describing the necessary assessment, making the diagnosis, and formulating a plan required to work with each type of difficult learner.


John D. Mahan, M.D.

Dr. Mahan is a Professor of Pediatrics in the OSU College of Medicine and serves as Vice Chair for Education in the Department of Pediatrics.  He practices as a Pediatric Nephrologist and continues to serve as General Pediatric Residency Program Director and Pediatric Fellowship Program Director at Nationwide Children’s Hospital/OSU, Columbus, Ohio.

As Assistant Dean, Faculty Development and through the Center for Faculty Advancement, Mentoring and Engagement, he oversees a team of medical educators devoted to promoting best educational practices in medicine, online faculty development through FD4ME, and promoting contributions to medical education scholarship by the faculty of the OSU College of Medicine. He has presented on medical education topics at workshops and symposia at the annual AAMC, ACGME, Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting, Association of Pediatric Program Directors Meeting, American Society of Pediatric Nephrology Meeting, American Society of Nephrology Meeting, International Pediatric Nephrology Association and the Annual Dialysis Conference. 

He was a member of the Federation of Pediatric Organizations Strategic Visioning Summit (2013) and is a recipient of the ACGME Parker Palmer Courage to Teach Award (2013), OSU College of Medicine Faculty Teaching Award (2006), elected to the Alpha Omega Honor Society (Drexel University) (2012), elected to the Arthur Gold Humanism Society (2013) and recipient of the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Career Achievement Award (2014).  He has served as Senior Editor of the FD4ME Online Faculty Development Program since 2010. 


  1. Recognize key concepts related to adult education--pedagogy vs. andragogy.
  2. Understand and be able to apply important medical education concepts (tools of the trade) such as feedforward/feedback and coaching.
  3. Describe the 3 cardinal qualities of a teacher/facilitator, according to Carl Rogers.
  4. Differentiate and be able to diagnose the three types of difficult learners: the slow learner, the learner with poor interaction skills and the unmotivated learner.
  5. Develop an effective intervention treatment plan for the slow learner, the learner with poor interaction skills, and the unmotivated learner.

Online Module

When completing the on-line module you will be presented with learning objectives, brief cases, questions for reflection (not scored), and interactive lessons with hyperlinks to engage you along the way. Once you complete the lessons, you will be presented with the Module Evaluation and then the Post Test (which requires a score of 70%), followed by the opportunity to print your Continuing Education Certificate. Modules remain available for your future reference once you have completed them.