Skip to content. Skip to navigation

Faculty Development

You are here: Home / Improve Your Lecturing / Aims and learning outcomes

Aims and learning outcomes

What is the purpose of the lecture?

  • To motivate learners so that they appreciate the importance of the subject material in the overall scheme of things? 
  • To transmit a body of information not readily attainable elsewhere? 
  • To teach the learner some important concepts and principles?
  • To act as a reference point in the course, for example consolidating learning from case or problem-based learning or small group teaching or providing revision material for an assessment?


Depending on the purpose (or aim), you will choose a different structure, including whether you will also define pre- and post-lecture activities or readings.

You may be given the learning outcomes for your lecture if you are teaching on an established programme, but in any event it is essential to define up to five learning outcomes before preparing a lecture.

  • What do you want the audience to learn?   
  • What are the key concepts that need to be addressed?
  • What essential knowledge and competencies should participants have on leaving the lecture?
  • How will all this be clearly communicated to the audience?
  • What techniques might you use to help them learn most effectively?
  • How will you build in interactivity for deeper engagement?


See ‘Lesson planning checklist’ in the Teachers’ toolkit for ideas on how to plan and structure a teaching session.

Careful attention to these questions will help to define the structure, content and teaching methods you choose for the lecture. If, for example, your aim is to present new knowledge and concepts, then the ‘classic’ lecture structure might be the first choice (Figure 1); alternatively, if the aim is to present a number of different approaches to a particular problem, the method and structure could be quite different (Figure 2).

Figure 1

Figure 2

This technique is suited for a lecture in which the purpose is for students to learn and model approaches to problem-solving. The opening statement of the problem might take the form of a real life clinical, public health or research situation or case history. Learners are led through a consideration of different perspectives or a variety of possible solutions. This method is good for encouraging audience participation through small ‘buzz group’ discussion.

An example might be a case of a child with polio. This would enable the teacher to talk about a number of aspects including immunisation protocols; global, public health or epidemiological aspects of controlling infectious diseases; global clinical features; risks and prognoses; research being carried out and what physiotherapy or occupational therapy a child or adult might need, including long-term effects such as post-polio syndrome.    

Thinking Points

How does a recent talk or lecture you have attended fit into these models?

What about your own teaching, have you consciously or unconsciously used structures like this?

Print module to PDF

Save a PDF of this module, so you can print it and read it in your own time.

Email your comments

Let us know what you think about this module or give us your feedback.

Further information

More information about this module, further reading and a complete list of glossary terms.

Learning activities

Read about the recommended learning activities for this module.