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First of all, I gratitude my experience in teaching undergraduate medical students before long I graduated three years ago. With reference to Staffordshire Evaluation of Teaching Styles (SETS) from David Wall (1), my method of teaching is dominated by two preeminent styles: 'all-round flexible and adaptable teacher' and 'big conference teacher'. These results are in line with what I have been experiencing for the last 3 years.
Currently, I lecture several medical subjects, both in small and large groups. In small groups, I mostly teach the clinical skills and procedures, like Skills Laboratory (SL), Problem-Based Learning (PBL), and journal reading. Whereas, in large class, I lecture doctor's journey of life in Elective Block. Since then, as a fresh medical teacher, I have always maintained my teaching roles as three main functionalities. These functionalities comprise:
As a motivator, I usually motivate learners from all directions. From rear perspective, I push and energize students' spirit when they fail. From front is to guide and coach them in achieving their dreams. To some extent, dreams need a helping hand. Speaking of this, I feel responsible to deliver my knowledge and experiences to them since they will become doctors and prospective role models of society. By and large, I often remind myself to cultivate the students' collaborative and healthy competitive learning.
2. Mentor and facilitator (2)
As a mentor, I try being alert to students' aptitude and learning styles. This will allow me to nurture their development and enlighten their enthusiasm. Quality time is highly important for both of us. This is a form of dedication. Students should be given an understanding that no goals can be achieved without putting any efforts. Admittedly, learning can be built with frequent exposure and practicing. (3)
When I teach, sometimes I put an inspiring quotation to pump out the students' mood. Consequently, not only will they enjoy the class, but also love the lessons. "We are not rich by what we possess but rather by what we can do without" by Immanuel Kant is an admirable quote that I frequently challenge the students' spirit in becoming high achiever doctors not only by their professional competencies and behaviors, but also by their value and quality of life.
3. Role model (2)
"Our words create our own world". This motto keeps me to provide positive reinforcement to my students continually. I do hope that my words can be an inspiring motivation for the students to value other people's lives, including their colleagues' and patients' lives. As a role model, I realize that there is a hidden curriculum that I have to nourish in students' performance, particularly: attitudes, patients-doctor communication skills, and social awareness. What is more, encouraging students to see the subjects as a holistic approach, thereby they will have a capability to make wise decision when they become doctors.
As a well-organized person, I am used to setting aside my time to prepare the material and my speech prior to the class lecture. This will allow me to adjust both the framework and delivery in accordance with the time allocation. I will narrate several steps that I perform in class normally.
1. Asking students to fill in individual Pre-test and Survey sheets
I use "Index of Learning Styles" from Felder to learn deeply about my students' preference and know their general background.(4) The results show that most of the medical students are highly visual learners. For this reason, it is important not to give lectures in one-way teaching method. It is crucial that I have usually put visual aids like eye-catching pictures, diagrams or video in the lectures in order to make them understand the materials clearly and fully. However, to cover every individual's learning style, I elect a more student-centered and collaborative learning.(5)
2. Define Learning Objectives
These objectives are greatly important for the students to have a broader viewpoint of what knowledge or skills they will accomplish at the end of the class.(6) On top of that, I often emphasize the importance of understanding the materials along with other subjects as a whole, not only certain chunk of organ systems. To meet the learning objectives, I use several teaching methods that I consider the most effective and efficient, such as: dividing the students into several groups and using student-centred learning methods. The methods I have used before are small group discussion, games in education, field trip, e-learning and peer-assisted learning. I combine these methods adjusted with the time allocation and the students' background.
3. Illuminate both the learner and teacher's roles
In large group setting, I usually present the students my teaching rules and learning outline at every first session.(6) Whereas, in small class setting, each student is usually given a chance to take turn in demonstrating the skills and describing the procedure. I also provide them free time and rooms to practice outside class hour.
4. Summary (6, 7)
My Learning Style
Based on Honey and Mumford's four learning styles, as a learner, I found out that I am a Reflector - Pragmatist.(8) This questionnaire enriches my previous perspective aside from the truth that I am a visual learner. I also prefer constructivism in learning. (5, 8, 9) With my learning styles, I realize that so far I teach students in a constructive manner, like sharing some of either my colleagues' or my live experiences. Hopefully with this, they can compare it to their prior experience and foster their imaginative and pro-active learning.
How it happens in my classroom
With respect to the effectiveness in classroom, I commonly use various methods of teaching and learning. This will help the students to get accustomed to working collaboratively in a clinical team later. To facilitate, I always provide up to date material, innovative teaching aid and media. Each of the tools and materials can be explained as followings:
The instructional technology I use, such as: slides, pointer, flipchart, video, e-learning and simulation
Clear and dynamic teaching methods by throwing question and answers sessions, interactive activities, games, field trip and role play.
To prevent overload materials, I either chunk the materials into several elements or emphasize only major cases
Compiling some similar topic from different department into one module in order to eliminate overlapping topics
Referring to giving examples and illustration and relate it to live experiences
Reevaluating subjects as the semester progresses, thereby encouraging deeper learning, not superficial
Assignments that I usually made are asking the students to develop a project.
Various teaching ways that I would like to escalate are:
I structure my teaching by dividing the students into several groups, challenge few queries about the case, then let them brainstorm each other
with break in the middle
I always encourage learners to create an alive and conducive learning atmosphere for themselves, either in PBL or small group discussion.
Reading students' concentration
Try to deliver the lecture in an easiest and simplest way
Giving constructive feedback
Being creative, innovative, and resourceful lecturer
Sometimes, we are not sure whether the students are internally driven to learn by their own or not. However, to myself, I have a belief that I should not restrict the students. On the contrary, I trust them and let them live their own lives. For instance, I sometimes let the students do the examination alone without my full supervision. I have a belief that the more we restrict them, the more they will not respect us.
Few observers from a faculty member describe my teaching as a flexible and professional teacher.
In another perspective from students, most of the students narrate that they like my teaching methods. Additionally, they said that they feel appreciated as I understand their needs as colleagues. Thus, they can absorb the subject fully and clearly. My student marks and attitudes are averagely excellent.
Students' background make a difference in how I teach
Regarding this issue, I usually concern my teaching based on the class size and students' background. I have once a student who always either absent or come late in class. Previously, other students and lecturers do not recognize his problems. Ever since I ask him in person, I came to know that he could not come to morning class because of consuming certain medicine. Coping with this, I try to gather all students in class, especially the group that he involves in. I ask the other students to help him involve in any discussions or participate in making the project. Though his participation is minor in the first time, I can see that there is a good progress of his attendance as well as his passion to finish his degree. Since I also supervise internship students, I can see that his performance in hospital setting is excellent. Shortly, he can survive until graduate as a doctor.
There are quite abundant cases like students do not really want to be a doctor. The reason they pursue to study medicine is mainly due to her parents' will. In this case, being a sensitive teacher to students' problems and conditions help me nourish their development as well as create an enjoyable environment for them to keep going.
What I still struggle with in terms of teaching and student learning
One of my biggest struggle in teaching is facing a difficult learner, especially those students who are often fail in the examination and have to repeat the entire semester. Most of them usually act as they understand all subjects we deliver. Whereas in Problem-based learning setting, the students often interrupt other people and do not want to recognize other's people perspective. I realize that I still need to practice and enhance my capacity tremendously overtime. Above all, I have to learn from others and understand the learners to be able to lead them in order to ensure that all graduates are fit into the best practices. Since medical field is very much related to humans' lives.