Instructional methods is a big concept to bite off in a post. Even in the Educational Design handbook, only big principles are addressed. Nonetheless, in their chapter, Sue Dojeiji and Lara Cooke (@Dstuffed) share some important steps to consider when choosing the appropriate teaching method for a curriculum.
Perhaps the most important step that Dojeiji and Cooke highlight is the need to match the instructional method to the learning objective. The most common error I see as a Clinician Educator is enthusiastic teachers designing a curriculum by initially choosing a new/innovative teaching method without considering the goals and objectives of the curriculum. This is common in simulation curricula, as well as with other popular teaching modalities. I am not suggesting simulation is an inappropriate instructional method; in fact, in some instances it may be the ideal match for a learning objective. However, choosing an instructional method should not be a function of either the novelty or popularity of the approach. Rather, as Dojeiji and Cooke suggest,
“We need to consider several factors when choosing an instructional method: the domain of the objectives (i.e., cognitive [knowledge], psychomotor [skills] or affective [attitudes]), the level of learning or performance required to meet the objectives (e.g., recognition versus integration of knowledge), the learning context (e.g., bedside or classroom), and practical issues associated with implementing the method.”
Until you know the WHAT you cannot select the (most effective) HOW. Of course, choosing an instructional method will be influenced by issues of feasibility (e.g. budget, available resources, faculty buy-in, time on task etc.) There will always exist an element of compromise.
This process of mapping learning objectives to instructional methods (i.e. curriculum blueprinting) serves as the foundation of the curriculum.
Below is a list of common instructional methods and their associated strengths and limitations. [click here to download]. In the next two posts I’ll discuss teaching procedures and bedside/clinical teaching.
Resources and images courtesy of Educational Design: a CanMEDS guide for the health professions.