#TTCNYC: Educational theories you need to know (about). St.Emlyn’s

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In the UK, and I suspect around the world, all emergency clinicians teach. From the first day in the department to the last day before retirement there are opportunities to share knowledge with friends, colleagues, patients, students, specialities, administrators, well pretty much everyone and anyone. It is arguably one of the most rewarding activities we do and there is no doubt that it makes a difference to patient care. Teaching and learning are cornerstones of our speciality and I see it happening all the time, but can we do it better?

This week I am teaching in New York on ‘The Teaching Course #TTCNYC‘. The course is co-ordinated by Rob Rogers who many of you will know through #FOAMed. We’ve got an amazing group of educators together for a week looking at how we can improve our delivery and impact of education in emergency and critical care medicine. There’s going to be lots of learning, lots of sharing of ideas and a great deal of tacit knowledge shared over the week, but what of the principles that underpin how we teach and learn? Perhaps if we understood a little more about the principles of learning and education we could deliver better learning. Don’t be alarmed, talk of educational theory is a real turn off to many people and a trawl on the internet can make you feel that there are more theories than educators. This post, which links to a talk I’m doing at #TTCNYC, aims to introduce you to those educational theories and ideas that you can really use to improve your teaching.

In essence: Which educational theories do I need to know in the ED?

Subtext: Which educational theories do I need to know to sound cleverer than I really am when talking about this stuff.

 There is an inevitability of a bit a list here, but bare with me. The list is not comprehensive and I apologise if I have left off your favourite theory. These are selected on the basis that they underpin general themes in education together with areas that we find particularly relevant to emergency medicine/critical care and the use of #FOAMed. I’m going to highlight how theory translates to practice by using the #LP hashtag, standing for Learning Point.

  1. Maslow’s hierachy of learning needs.
  2. Constructivism and socio-constructivism
  3. Lave and Wenger’s communities of practice
  4. Spaced repetition
  5. Miller’s assessment pyramid
  6. Bloom’s taxonomy
  7. Mastery, improvement and deliberate practice
  8. Kolb’s learning cycle
  9. Lewis change model
  10. Educational theories you should know: Dual-Coding


This session at #TTCNYC15 is based on many things, but most notably the help I received from Mike Davies, Kate Denning and Victoria Brazil in putting ideas, concepts and delivery together.

A final thought.

These are all theories and are no more than that. They are here to help you think about education but not for you to be directed or constrained by them. Every single one of the theories above has an opposing or revisionist view and you should be equally sceptical of them all. No theory in education is perfect just as no educator is perfect. However, we can all improve by thinking about what we do, and if a bit of structure helps you do that then great.



Before you go please don’t forget to…

Cite this article as: Simon Carley, "#TTCNYC: Educational theories you need to know (about). St.Emlyn’s," in St.Emlyn's, November 10, 2015, https://www.stemlynsblog.org/ttcnyc-educational-theories-you-need-to-know-about-st-emlyns/.

Posted by Simon Carley

Simon Carley MB ChB, PGDip, DipIMC (RCS Ed), FRCS (Ed)(1998), FHEA, FAcadMed, FRCEM, MPhil, MD, PhD is Creator, Webmaster, owner and Editor in Chief of the St Emlyn’s blog and podcast. He is visiting Professor at Manchester Metropolitan University and a Consultant in adult and paediatric Emergency Medicine at Manchester Foundation Trust. He is co-founder of BestBets, St.Emlyns and the MSc in emergency medicine at Manchester Metropolitan University. He is an Education Associate with the General Medical Council and is an Associate Editor for the Emergency Medicine Journal. His research interests include diagnostics, MedEd, Major incidents & Evidence based Emergency Medicine. He is verified on twitter as @EMManchester

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