2.5 Identify and apply effective teaching strategies

By responding to the teaching styles of your students, preceptors are able to incorporate a number of different teaching strategies. [1][2]

Some suggestions include…

Modelling and observation

Providing students with the opportunity to observe your clinical skills is a good place to start, and can provide the basis for discussion of techniques and approaches.


Verbally guiding a student through a procedure while they are performing the skill can provide a supportive learning environment for some students.

Case presentations

This type of learning strategy can provide students with the opportunity to verbalize their approach, develop critical analysis skills, and to determine conclusions and a plan of action. Contributions from other members of a team can provide students with valuable feedback from a variety of health care professionals helping them develop a multi-professional view of clients.

Direct questioning

This method can be particularly helpful in fostering students’ critical reasoning skills, and actively engages them in their decision-making and acquisition of information.
While questions are an excellent way to stimulate thought, analysis, and transfer the responsibility of learning to the student, equally important is the way in which the questions are posed. Research reflects that this method is most effective when students do not feel that they are being ‘grilled’ (McGee & Irby, 1997).

Types of questions:

  1. Low level questions ask for facts, concepts or definitions.
  2. Higher level questions ask for an analysis or evaluation of information to form a judgment.
  3. Affective questions help students to identify their own thoughts or feelings.
  4. Open questions provide students with an opportunity to display what they know, and to share how they are approaching and analyzing problems.

Tips for effective questioning:

  • Begin with easier questions.
  • Avoid assumptions on what a student knows.
  • Try to keep an open mind about their response.
  • Ask one question at a time.
  • Allow at least three seconds for the response to be given.
  • Listen with openness and curiosity.

[1] Burns, C., Beauchesne, M., Ryan-Krause, P., & Sawin, K. (2006). Mastering the Preceptor role: Challenges of clinical teaching. Journal of Pediatric Health Care 20(3), 172-183. doi:10.1016/j.pedhc.2005.10.012
[2] McGee, S., & Irby, D. (1997). Teaching in the outpatient setting. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 12(s-2), 34-40. doi:10.1046/j.1525-1497.12.s2.5.x