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Aims and learning outcomes

What is the purpose of the lecture?

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

If the purpose of the lecture includes two or more of these, it should be structured to deal with the purposes sequentially, not concurrently, and adequate time will need to be allowed for each component.

Carefully thought-out learning outcomes are essential before preparing a lecture.

  • What do you want the audience to learn?
  • What are the key concepts that need to be addressed?
  • What essential skills and competencies should participants have on leaving the lecture?
  • How will all this be clearly communicated to the audience?

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

Aims one

Figure 2

Aims two

This technique is suited to a lecture in which the purpose is to get students/trainees to learn and model approaches to problem solving. The opening statement of the problem may take the form of a real-life clinical situation or case history. Students/trainees are led through a consideration of a variety of possible solutions. This method is good for encouraging audience participation.
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 a structure like this?



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