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Assessment

Assessment represents a large suite of learning strategies which all are ways of measuring or gauging participants' progress, in order to identify the next steps in learning. There are many different ways that assessment is categorised. Good instructors will be using ‘formative’ assessment in their training all of the time where they continually evaluate the progress of the participants and give them feedback on this, without a formal test or mark. By contrast ‘summative’ assessment is sometimes used in the training environment, often as an end of course ‘quiz’ to quantify the progress made by each participant over the course. Most professional learners will be proficient at self-assessment and are able to identify their own learning needs, provided that relevant learning objectives and checklists have been provided. Assessment is an integral part of good training and vital for effective learning, as it increases engagement and achievement, by providing learners with feedback to identify what to focus their efforts on next. 

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Brainstorming

Brainstorming

Brainstorming combines an informal approach to problem solving with lateral thinking. It encourages people to come up with thoughts and ideas that may seem eccentric or over-ambitious but that can be crafted into new solutions to a problem, or stimulate other ideas. This helps to get people unstuck by "jolting" them out of their normal ways of thinking. Participants are encouraged to propose as many ideas as possible in the allotted time (typically 10-15 min). Ideas are recorded (for example, on a flip chart or post-it notes) and participants are told not to critique ideas during the idea-generating phase. Quantity of ideas is more important at this phase than quality. A facilitator is used to pull out ideas and probe as necessary to clarify.

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Breakout session

Breakout session

Breakout sessions in a learning context refer to a technique where subgroups are formed during a lecture-type event. Students are assigned to one breakout group (typically 2-4 groups are formed) and given instructions on what they need to do. Topics are assigned to each group (either the same or different topics). Examples of topics can include

  • discussing a case which is based on the topic of the lecture
  • students analysing their learning so far and defining additional learning needs or interest or
  • diversifying the topic of the lecture (e.g. a main lecture on clinical trials followed by break-out groups working on clinical trials in cancer, infectious diseases, rare disease or for vaccines. 

The break-out group can be student or teacher/facilitator lead, depending on the design of the break-out group. A break out group typically ends with reporting the results etc back to the entire class.

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Building knowledge in layers

Also known as spiral learning, building knowledge in layers allows for a concept to be introduced initially without any of the details. The subject is then revisted repeatedly throughout a course, with additional layers of complexity added each time; and each time these are related back to the basics. This allows students to pick up more information with each successive iteration, strengthen their understanding, and expand their skills. In theory this approach of exposing students to a topic, and then revisiting it, allows students to construct their own understanding on a basic framework. This strategy is particularly useful for teaching complex topics. 

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Case study

Case study

The case study presents the trainees with a written description of the "case" which can be a business scenario, a medical case, an ethical dilemma or other sciences cases. Usually case studies demonstrate theoretical concepts in an applied context. Trainees are asked to develop a solution for the case or take a decision based on the information given in in the case description. Case studies are most commonly solved in groups during class, but can also be solved individually (including assignments) or outside class. Often cases do not have one right answer.

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Classroom response system

Classroom response system

A classroom response system (CRS) is a device or software that enables the instructor to obtain real-time feedback from the audience. Typically the instructor poses a multiple-choice question or a selection of statements to the participants. Using the CRS each participant submits an answer anonymously. The answers are collected by the CRS and displayed as a histogram of the choices made by the participants. The CRS can be applied to different learning objectives:

  • to assess participants' understanding
  • to help participants to consolidate their pre-exisiting knowledge by starting discussion in pairs or small groups, who work together to identify the correct answer
  • to collect data to illustrate statistical methods
  • to evaluate the influence of information or arguments on participants' opinions
  • to facilitate discussions
  • to support participants in exploring, expanding, applying and integrating their knowledge
  • to adapt training sessions according to the participants' understanding and needs
  • polling questions

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Closed poll

Closed poll

The Closed Poll is a method to guide a course lasting several days, and to evaluate your teaching. In the Closed Poll, you collect cards with feedback. This helps you to get representative opinions from the entire class, even from reluctant students.

 

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Community of practice

Community of practice

A community of practice (CoP) is a group of people who share a profession (or craft). The group can evolve naturally because of the members' common interest in a particular domain or area, or it can be created specifically with the goal of gaining knowledge related to the field of common interest. Through sharing information and experiences with the group, members learn from each other and have an opportunity to develop themselves personally and professionally. CoPs can exist online, such as within discussion boards and newsgroups, or in real life, such as in a lunch group at work. This type of learning practice has existed for as long as people have been learning and sharing their experiences through storytelling.

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Educational game

Educational game

Educational games engage the learner in the game process during which he is acquiring cognitive and/or social skills. Educational games do include card- board- and video games or variations of well known games like Jeopardy and contain a competitve and/or chance component. Participants learn while running through the process of the game. Some games are based on decisions a trainee has to take using both new concepts and previous experiences. Other games demonstrate the effect of a certain set of rules to the trainee or highlight (hidden) assumptions.  A similar concept is used by educational simulation, however in simulations usually stress the interactive component over the competitve and chance component.

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Flipped classroom

Flipped classroom

For an flipped or inverted classroom the order of a class followed home assignment is “flipped”, i.e. you start with a pre-course learning assignment, which is then discussed in the following class.

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Interspersed short exercises

This is a variation on a traditional lecture, which is interspersed with short problem-questions and activities. The theoretical material is broken down into 20 minute ‘chunks’, which are presented in a lecture format. The trainer can then test if the trainees comprehended each theoretical ‘chunk’ in turn using questions, exercises and activities that require a whole class response. The technique has a number advantages over a traditional lecture format. Breaking the theoretical content up at 20 minute intervals promotes engagement. Ensuring that the exercises require a whole audience response enables the trainer to assess progress, and if necessary adjust the pitch of the content as the session progresses. Interspersed short exercises can be used for acquiring and deepening knowledge, conceptual and theoretical understanding.

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Paired discussion

Paired discussion

Paired discussion is a teaching methodology where learners in groups of two discuss a topic or open ended question posed by the instructor. It is also called “think-pair-share”, which indicate that before a paired discussion the learners are given time to think on their own before discussing with their partners. The results of the discussion are then shared with either the whole group or another subgroup. As a variation instead the “share” part can be skipped or learners write their answers on note cards or sticky notes which are then collected (and displayed if desired). Paired discussions are a simple method to stimulate learners to explore and discover a subject as well as giving the instructor feedback on class performance.   

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Peer learning

Peer learning

Peer learning is an educational practice in which trainees interact with each other to attain educational goals. It may be self organised (see, for example, the peerogogy handbook and also the related method - community of practice), or it may be incorporated into formal learning (see Eric Mazur's peer instruction website). There is evidence that peer learning can enhance conceptual understanding compared with classical lectures.

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Post-up

Post-up

Post-ups are a fun and effective way to get people to articulate their expectations for a course and share them with the rest of the group. Learning objectives can then be prioritised according to the number of similar stickies, and unique expectations can be used to direct one-to-one discussions.

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Practical

Practical

practical is a practical section of a course of study. Trainees learn by actively practicing the skills that they need to develop.

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Problem-based learning

Problem-based learning

During Problem based learning (PBL) sessions learners are presented a problem which they have to solve. To solve the problem the learners have to identify which of their pre-existing knowledge can be applied and which additional knowledge is needed. Usually PBL is done as a group work and often guided by a facilitator, which supports the learners in their discussion, their quest to identifying which new knowledge needs to be a acquired and during the exchange of pre-existing knowledge. The PBL methods in its stricter sense applies seven steps to structure the process, which are: 1) Clarify terms 2) Define problem 3) Analyse problem 4) Draw inventory of solutions 5) formulate learning objectives 6) home study and collect new information 7) synthesis and test acquired information Problem Based Learning can be used for acquiring and deepening knowledge but also to train to analyse complex scenarios and associated decision making.

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Project-based learning

Project-based learning

Trainees work on scientific problems with collaborating scientists. They learn by doing and are mentored by a senior scientist.

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Simulation

Simulation

Educational simulations create a virtual and interactive environment. Participants learn while running through this simulated process or series of events. Being part of the simulation the participant has to take decisions using both new concepts and previous experiences. The virtual and interactive environment is either created with the help of computers or by individual impersonating a certain role (e.g. CEO, client). Simulations range from an almost complete reproduction of reality (e.g. flight simulator) to simulations of situations using roleplay (e.g. emergency scenario simulations). A similar concept is used by educational (board) games, however in this case the environment is not interactive and games often focus more on the competitive aspect

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Training workshop

Training workshop

A training workshop is a form of interactive training in which participants typically learn through activities in addition to presentationss. Typically, training workshops are 1-2 days in length, with relatively short bursts of instruction alternating with practical sessions or interactive activities. The ratio of trainers to trainees is typically high - 1:5 – 1:10.

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