It is at the level of the individual lesson or teaching session that clinical teachers need to integrate the learning needs of their students or trainees with defined learning objectives. This can be achieved by asking four fundamental questions when planning teaching (adapted from Spencer, 2003, p. 251).
- Who am I teaching? The number of learners and their level.
- What am I teaching? The topic or subject, the type of expected learning (knowledge, skills, behaviours).
- How will I teach it? Teaching and learning methods, length of time available, location of teaching session, access to patients, internet resources, clinical skills models, etc.
- How will I know if the students understand? Informal and formal assessments, questioning techniques, feedback from learners.
You might also want to ask:
- What do they know already?
- Where have they come from and what are they going on to next?
- What do the learners want as a result of your teaching and how can I find this out?
- How can I build in sufficient flexibility cope with emergent needs?
For each teaching session it helps to formulate a ‘lesson plan’. This may be very detailed or a simple broad-brush outline, but before each session, you should:
- define your aims and learning outcomes or objectives
- think about the structure of the session and timing of activities
- decide on the best teaching and learning methods to achieve the learning outcomes
- list content and key topics, and research more if needed
- refine lesson plan
- identify learning resources and support materials
- finalise any linked assessment or evaluation.
A practice tip is at the start of the session to build in time for students and trainees to define their own learning needs and then translate their learning needs into achievable outcomes.