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Teamwork was vital for the teaching session to be successful. The group consisted of five people who were already well acquainted. This made communication easier and allowed individuals to be more open, thus, creating a good team environment. As a team, we decided on a time line towards the teaching session to ensure we stayed on target. The appointment of a leader within the group helped to keep the team organised, on task and within the time-line. This was evident in the efficiency at which we chose the topic and undertook the research. We worked well as a team with each member contributing ideas and actively taking part. Decisions were made as a team with little disagreements involved.
In addition, we gave each other positive and constructive criticisms with which team members were comfortable in accepting and as a group consequently building on areas of weakness, for example in teaching styles. Most of our communication was via emails following group meetings. This sometimes caused misconceptions to arise which were usually dealt with in subsequent face-to-face meetings.
As a group, we all had different learning styles; visual, auditory and kinaesthetic which inevitably meant we had different ideas of teaching and preferences in how certain topics should be taught.2 In recognising that the students also will have this variety in learning, we decided to incorporate all our learning styles into various aspects of the teaching session. This ensured the accommodation of most students learning styles hence increasing their understanding of the topic further.
The task was divided amongst ourselves based on our individual strengths, which proved effective ion the team process.
"The role of the 'teacher' is to facilitate the learning, not to be the fountain of all knowledge."3 According to the GMC, one of the attributes a doctor with teaching responsibilities must have is 'sensitivity and responsiveness to the educational needs of the students.4 Therefore a teacher must understand the expected competence of the students and then tailor their teaching to meet that criterion. As a group, we were able to do this by critically reviewing the aims, objectives and learning outcomes for the first year students, then adapting our teaching content to suit those needs.
Teaching is a way of learning, re-enforcing what one may already know. The process of gathering the information for the teaching session enabled us as a group to further develop our knowledge and understanding of the topic ourselves. Through discussion of our topic we were able to clarify misunderstood concepts, refresh our understanding of the topic and also relate it to our current study. In preparation, we read wide around the subject using various aids such as the internet, textbooks, lecture notes and case studies. We have learnt that, it is most difficult to teach if one is lacking in a deep understanding of that topic itself.
The importance of reflecting on learning and teaching was also highlighted by analysing the methods by which we were taught previously. We were able to highlight the positive and negative points which positively influenced our style of teaching.
Through this experience, as a group we have learnt that there is no right or wrong way to teach or to learn. But to provide effective teaching and learning, it is vital to have good communication skills as poor communication can lead to misunderstandings and a feeling of dissatisfaction for both the teacher and the learner.
Evaluating our Feedback
On evaluating the feedback forms, the session was perceived to be at a correct level of difficultly. This was a key point in the preparation of the session, as we felt anything too difficult would discourage the students to learn. There was also strong agreement with the aims and objectives with 3 out of 5 students awarding us the maximum 4. The pace of the presentation allowed the students' time to assimilate the information with most learners awarding a score greater than 3. Contrasting this was the facilitator. Overall, the presentation was perceived to be well done with a good summary.
The layout of the presentation was criticised for 'too much information on some slides' and an inappropriate colour scheme, which 'was hard to read.' Unfortunately this was a technical error.
'More audience participation and testing' would have been beneficial in assessing the learner's understanding and the effectiveness of our teaching methods. This was reflected in the facilitator's score of 2. Although our topic was 'Pathophysiology of Heart Failure', a clinical approach may have been better appreciated with discussion on treatment.
From our own experience and through the feedback from the facilitator and learners, we believe making the session more active; by giving the learners a role would enhance the learning experience.
The GMC states that "All doctors have a professional obligation to contribute to the education and training of other doctors, medical students and non-medical healthcare professionals on the team".4 This peer teaching session has prepared and given an insight of these obligations we will face once qualified as doctors. Furthermore, peer teaching has also helped to enhance our own individual teaching skills by giving us the opportunity to observe different techniques used amongst the members of the group and through the lectures provided in preparation for the peer teaching session.