Seven Questions Healthcare Educators Can Ask to Build Effective Lesson Plans
Everyone uses an array of preferred learning methods and skills to take in and process new information. To make learning more effortless, effective, and efficient, educators need a structured plan built on the belief that learning to learn is a lifelong process that involves change and is accompanied by the fear of change. Self-awareness and metacognition among learners are integral to that process and faculty can create classroom experiences that support the learning process. How? Here are seven questions educators need to ask to guide them in crafting effective lesson plans.
1. Plan: What are the standards and competencies required?
Regardless of the level of education or healthcare field, there is almost always a set of standards that need to be followed to obtain the necessary certification. Educators must decide when and where to introduce and reinforce important content. Aside from standard content, healthcare learners must develop clinical competencies such as patient care and assessment and communication skills with patients, families, and other healthcare providers. Additionally, educators must consider any additional goals that need to be integrated into the curriculum.
2. Set Goals and Objectives: What do learners need to know or do?
Once the standards are determined, move on to the next step: determining exactly what kind of learning experience will be provided to learners. Educators need to consider how deeply they wish to go into each topic:
|Just for information, but not testable||Simply restate facts or information||Should be able to perform independently||Take facts and use in different scenario||Complete a skill|
After determining the required standards, educators can then write strong learning goals and objectives based on two aims: focus on the most relevant and critical information and provide learners with an efficient guide on not only what content or skills they need to know but also at what level of competency.
3. Prepare: What prerequisite knowledge is required?
As an educator, it is important to consider if learners require any prerequisite knowledge before receiving new instruction. If the answer is yes, several strategies can be adopted to fill in any knowledge gaps. There are several methods that educators can use, from assigning pre-reading or learning activities beforehand to open discussion. It is also possible to move the responsibility to the learner by providing a list of prerequisite topics that need to be reviewed before didactics. Regardless of the method chosen, it is critical to consider where learners are starting from—not just in terms of content knowledge, but also regarding any competencies or skills required by the curriculum.
4. Teach: What’s the best way to present the information?
Another key decision that instructors need to make is how to present their lessons. This decision will be based on several factors: the learner’s level of knowledge; the nature of the skill or information that’s being taught; the level of mastery required; and finally, the professional decision-making of the educator as the content expert. Here are some presentation options for educators:
|Traditional Lecture||This is the traditional method of sharing information with students. It is best used for board overviews, to provide prerequisite knowledge and clarify misunderstandings, and for efficiency.|
|Flipped classroom or learning||This method has been shown to be especially effective for health science instruction. In flipped learning, materials are provided prior to class or lab for students to master. Class or lab time is then used to apply information and for problem solving.|
|Case presentations||This method involves parenting cases that are relevant to the chosen objectives. Careful evaluation of prerequisite knowledge will be critical for the success of students.|
5. Assess: How will I measure learning?
The next key point that must be considered is assessment—the process of identifying, gathering, and interpreting information about learners throughout the process. Good assessment occurs before, during, and after instruction. This can be divided into two types: formative and summative assessment.
Formative assessment is generally low-stakes and occurs throughout the program in the form of activities or assignments. From the educator’s side, this form of assessment provides feedback on learner performance. From the learner’s side, it helps to identify strengths and weaknesses, allowing them to pinpoint any learning gaps as quickly as possible.
Summative assessment, on the other hand, usually happens at the end of the program and is used to evaluate learning and mastery of a concept or skill. This usually takes the form of a final exam, which means that it is similar to a final performance and generates little feedback.
6. Reflect: What would I do differently next time?
Following instruction, it is important to reflect on and analyze the effectiveness of teaching. This serves as a learning opportunity, allowing educators to identify ways to improve teaching efficiency and identify their strengths and weaknesses as an instructor. Reflective practice is ‘learning through and from experience towards gaining new insights of self and practice’. 1 Reflecting can be difficult at first, but educators can choose to reflect on either an entire lesson or focus on a specific portion such as learner engagement.
7. Refine: What’s next?
After reflection, the final point that needs to be considered is refinement—answering the question of “what’s next?”. This is when educators review the insights that surfaced during the reflection process and determine how to better optimize their lesson plans. This can take many forms based on the exact insights uncovered, including content refinement to ensure alignment between course and curricular goals, instructional skill refinement to improve teaching efficacy, or even curriculum adjustment to reduce any knowledge gaps or remove redundancies.
To maximize learning outcomes, educators need to not only cover the right content but also deliver that content in the best possible way. Many strategies can be adopted to raise learner engagement, improve learning efficiency, and optimize exam preparation.
1 Reflecting on Reflective Practice” – Lynda Finlay (2008). (n.d.). Google.com. Retrieved April 18, 2023, from https://sites.google.com/a/westernheights.school.nz/mad-learning/reflecting-on-reflective-practice-lynda-finlay-2008