Teaching: Deciding upon delivery

Last updated: Monday, July 03, 2023

You have established what your learners need to learn, and developed their learning outcomes. The next step is to think about how you will deliver your planned learning session. You may be familiar with many different types of delivery already such as face-to-face techniques including lectures, workshops and work-based learning, and distance-learning methods such as electronic learning.

Test your existing knowledge of the advantages and disadvantages of different teaching methods here before reading on. 

Examples of delivery techniques led by the teacher include lectures where learners passively receive information through listening and watching. Lectures can allow many learners to be taught at the same time in the same room, but they are relatively ineffective for learning and retaining information. There is often little opportunity to ask questions or to engage with the teacher or other learners. Keeping learners’ attention can be challenging as on average people tend to switch off after about 15 minutes. 

Small group learning describes a range of teaching methods led by the learner. They can range in size and may be as small as one. Learners play an active part in their learning and the teacher acts as a coach. All learners are encouraged to engage and ask questions, think independently and develop their own ideas. They may have a problem to solve (‘problem-based learning’) that requires them to undertake research on a topic and evaluate information. Learners may learn more effectively when they interact with one another such as in a small group and build their own learning. Information is also more likely to be retained in the long-term when learnt in this way.
    I hear and I forget; I see and I remember; I do and I understand (500 BC Confucius)  

Ideally your learners should be as similar as possible with regard to their baseline knowledge but this is not always possible; if you do have significant variation, then you can use the expert learners in the room to help you teach and keep them engaged.

Which delivery method(s) could you use for your 8 trainee pharmacists? The learning outcomes you have finally decided upon are; 
  • Discuss the benefits of first-line pharmacological treatments for patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus 
  • Outline the second and third-line options, if first-line treatments are ineffective 
  • List the common side effects associated with oral treatments for type 2 diabetes mellitus 
  • Demonstrate how to clinically screen a prescription for oral diabetes mellitus medicines 
  • Recognise the barriers to compliance for patients with oral treatments for type 2 diabetes mellitus and how to address them

You have 2 hours to deliver the learning.     Consider, then click some suggestions.

Some suggestions
Most of your learning outcomes fall into the knowledge domain. Although teacher-led activities such as lectures have traditionally been used to deliver knowledge, they may not be the most effective for helping the learners to learn and retain information.

You could consider a student-led activity such as presenting the group with a case of a new presentation of diabetes mellitus and asking them to work up a management plan using a range of resources including the BNF, guidelines and treatment summaries such as those found on the CKS website. You might have access to an expert patient who can share their lived experience of the side effects of their medicines for diabetes.

Your role in a student-led session is to coach learners through the activity, answering their questions if you know them, and signposting them to where they may find the answers if you don’t. Encouraging your learners to interact with one another and construct their own learning will make for a more memorable learning experience.

The learning outcome concerned with screening will require clinical knowledge and the skill of being able to systematically screen a prescription. Learning a skill requires a learner to practise that skill (think of a learner driver mastering the skill of driving a car). Therefore your learners will need some hands-on practise either with ‘mock’ prescriptions, or with ‘real’ prescriptions under close supervision.

Recognising that patients experience barriers in complying with their medicines is an attitude. Asking your expert patient to describe their struggles with taking their medicines as prescribed, and the learners subsequently discussing these barriers in small groups will ensure more effective learning compared to a lecture on the topic, for example.