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Setting learning outcomes: maximising opportunities

There are many opportunities for setting learning outcomes with learners on a day-to-day basis. Spencer’s article ‘Learning and teaching in the clinical environment’ (2003) describes a range of aspects and activities concerned with helping clinical teachers to optimise teaching and learning opportunities that arise in daily practice, such as planning, using appropriate questioning techniques and teaching in different clinical contexts. Such techniques often involve discussing learners’ performance or understanding, but the techniques are built into everyday practice. 

Those setting learning objectives can help the learner to move through the stages in the ‘competency model’ of professional development (Proctor, 2001; Hill, 2007) as shown in the table below.

 

 

  Unconscious
incompetence

Conscious
incompetence

Conscious
competence

Unconscious
competence

Learner Low level of competence. Unaware of failings Low level of competence. Aware of failings but not having full skills to correct them Demonstrates  competence but skills not fully internalised  or integrated. Has to think about activities Carries out tasks with conscious thought. Skills internalised and routine. Little or no conscious awareness of detailed processes involved in activities  
Clinical teacher:
setting learning objectives or learning outcomes 
Sets achievable learning outcomes for individual or group in alignment with the programme outcomes and identified individual needs Sets achievable learning outcomes, helps learners set own outcomes, including study/learning or practical skills. Knows where learners can find out more and gain skills Reminds of overall programme goals, aims and outcomes to ensure alignment. Moves towards a more learner-led approach as learner shifts towards ‘expert’ position – expects learner to be able to identify majority of learning needs Reminds of clinical updates and opportunities for gaining higher-level knowledge, skills. Links to revalidation, appraisal, peer review and other forms of professional development

 

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