Assessing Your Teaching Style

Review the subsections by clicking on the buttons below.

Assessing Your Teaching Style

In order to gain a greater understanding of your personal teaching style, take a few minutes to complete the attached Teaching Styles Self Assessment tool. Each item is a statement from a preceptor to a student. As you read it, consider how you would most likely react in the teaching encounter. Focus less on the content and more on the manner in which the question or statement is given. Indicate on the scale on the right-hand side your level of likelihood in using this style of question or statement. There are no right or wrong answers- only preferences. Complete the form before continuing with the module. Teaching Style Self Assessment Tool (text version)

Teaching Adult Students:

One way to look at teaching and learning styles is to consider differences in adult and child learning - andragogy and pedagogy. Though derived from the Greek work for child, the term pedagogy had historically been used to apply to all teaching. The term andragogy was introduced later to highlight the differences between learning and teaching in adults and children (Whitman, 1990). Characteristics of each are described in the following table:

Table 1 : Teaching Styles
  Pedagogy The pedagogical style is teacher centered - the teacher decides what is taught and how it is taught. As a result, the student is dependent on the teacher for direction as well as the content itself. The focus of learning is to build a foundation of knowledge that may be useful later. Andragogy Andragogy, or adult learning style is student centered. Students take a much more active role in directing what they need to learn. The focus of learning is more on the application of knowledge and the development of competency in skills that are needed at that moment. The role of the teacher is more as a facilitator of learning and a resource to the student. The adult student takes responsibility for his or her education.
Concept of the student Dependent Self-directed
Focus of learning Foundation Application
Learning orientation Knowledge for later Competency for today
Role of teacher Director/Expert Facilitator/Resource

Each style of teaching can be effective, depending upon the situation. At times, the teacher needs to take control of the learning situation and work to ensure that the student has a solid base of knowledge for future use. At other times, students must be encouraged and allowed to assess their own needs and direct their learning.

Teaching Adult Students: (cont.)

Now, refer to your Teaching Style Self Assessment. Questions 1-6 reflect variations on a pedagogic or andragogic learning style:

Question 1: "We've got a few minutes now.I'll give you my 10 minute talk on _____."

This statement indicates a teacher centered approach to using available teaching time. In this case, the teacher selects the topic and mode of teaching.

Question 2: "What are the seven causes of _________?"

This style asks for a listing of seven specific causes of a medical problem. The implication is that the student will recite these from memory, a type of inquiry used in a pedagogic style.

Both of these approaches may be useful with a student who has a poor knowledge base.

Question 3: "______ is an important and common problem. Read this chapter so that you will know more about it." In this example, the teacher determines the subject matter and the material and mode of learning.

How might you change the preceptor's comment so it is oriented to a more andragogical style?

Question 4: "We've got a few minutes now. What would you like to discuss?"

The preceptor allows the student to determine the content of some teaching time and implies discussion rather than a more formal talk or lecture. This is in keeping with a more andragogical style of teaching.

Question 5: "We saw two patients with _______ today. What useful things did you learn and what questions remain?"

Here, the preceptor asks the student to assess what they already knew about a clinical problem and to determine what additional learning was needed.

Question 6: "Look carefully at your knowledge base and your clinical skills and let me know tomorrow what needs improvement and how we can work on that over the remaining three weeks."

An even more in-depth self assessment is asked of the student and significant responsibility for self directed learning is offered.

Both of the pedagogical and andragogical styles are useful, depending upon the student's skills and abilities. You may have tendencies to be more or less comfortable using certain styles. There is no right or wrong teaching (or learning) style. If you are comfortable with the components of both of these styles, it is likely that you are innately comfortable dealing with students at a variety of skill levels. If you tend towards a certain approach, you probably are most comfortable dealing with students for whom this approach is most appropriate. However, expanding your repertoire may be useful in order to maximize your educational encounters with students of a variety of levels.

Module 2: Teaching and Learning Styles