The Science of Learning: Quick Revision Tips

Here are a few quick revision tips to put into practice when studying.

Chunking Theory: Make it bitesize the content you are learning. It’s unlikely you can remember entire chapters, so take keypoints and relate them to the clinical environment (make the hooks to link theory to clinical situations)

Challenge: Test yourself, check the textbooks you are using and often you will find questions to challenge your knowledge.

Recall: Try to recall the main ideas when you have completed an article or chapter. Repeat this recall at a different time, maybe when exercising or sitting on the bus. Can you recall all the salient points?

Spaced learning: short bursts, repeated over a set time period.

Interleaving: “Interleaving two or more subjects during practice also provides a form of spacing” (Brown, Roediger & McDaniel, 2014).

For more information on studying try this post on Good and Bad Studying.

12 Tips for Applying the Science of Learning to Health Professions Education.

Journal Club Article: Gooding, H. C., Mann, K., & Armstrong, E. (2017). Twelve tips for applying the science of learning to health professions educationMedical teacher39(1), 26-31.

Background: There is a vast amount of data around the science of learning. The evidence comes from an array of specialties, from cognitive psychology, neuroscience, sociology, anthropology and behavioral economics. Much of the evidence is siloed within each speciality and/or level of education practice from school grade, higher education and the professional workplace domains.

Aim: 6 themes are identified that highlight the complex relationship in supporting education. 12 practical tips are provided for utilising the principles around the science of learning.

  • Improving the processing of information: Cognitive Load Theory: working memory and processing only certain amount of information and stored in long term memory for later use.
    • Reduce extraneous load whenever possible, especially relevant for the teacher during course design or presenting new information.
    • Help learners manage intrinsic load: build schemas through starting by using simple examples then building to complex tasks. Chunking content into manageable or ‘bitesize’ worloads.
  • Promoting effortful learning: If not used regularly what is learned is often forgotten.
    • Retrieval practice: by retrieving information from long term memory aids and strengthens neural connections.
    • Spaced retrieval and interleaving content
  • Applying learned information to new and varied contexts:
    • Applied what has been learned to new and different contexts, known as ‘transfer’.
    • To build schemas with clinical reasoning and problem solving.
  • Developing expertise: Promote the development of novice to expert.
    • Deliberate practice: practice like you play.
    • Encourage learners to create learning-orientated goals.
  • Harnessing the power of emotion for learning: Recognize emotional state and impact on learning
    • Create safe learning spaces.
  • Teaching and learning in social context: social learning theory (Bandura, 1986)
    • Learning occurs dynamically with interactions in the environment, learning is social.
    • Social nature of learning through the values, language and skill in the community.
    • Create authentic experiences in workplace learning. In adult learning it needs to be authentic and relevant for the learner.
    • Metacognition: thinking about thinking.

Further Reading

Bandura, A. (1977). Social learning theory. Englewood Cliffs, N. J.: Prentice-Hall.

Mayer, R. E. (2008). Applying the science of learning: Evidence-based principles for the design of multimedia instructionAmerican Psychologist63(8), 760.

Young, J. Q., Van Merrienboer, J., Durning, S., & Ten Cate, O. (2014). Cognitive load theory: Implications for medical education: AMEE guide no. 86Medical teacher36(5), 371-384.

Creating effective learning in today’s emergency departments

Journal Club Article: Bandiera, G., Lee, S., & Tiberius, R. (2005). Creating effective learning in today’s emergency departments: how accomplished teachers get it doneAnnals of Emergency Medicine45(3), 253-261.

Background: The Emergency department (ED) should be an ideal place for learning but due to the unpredictive nature of the workload, significant impediments occur which can effect teaching opportunities. The wide variety patient presentations balanced with an array of learners in crowded and compromised ED departments.

Aim: To investigate the ambulatory teaching techniques that ED clinical teachers demonstrate in terms of prerequisites, behaviour and impediments for good teaching to occur.

Methods: A qualitative grounded-theory analysis using a structured telephone survey. Participants were current Canadian emergency medicine teaching faculty (N= 33, participated out of potential 43].

Results: 12 strategies used during clinical teaching, 8 prerequisites to being an effective ED teacher and 6 impediments to teaching were identified.

Strategies for Good ED Teaching Practices:

  1. Tailor teaching to the learner
  2. Optomize teacher-learner interaction
  3. Tailor teaching to the situation
  4. Actively involve the learner
  5. Actively seek opportunities to teach
  6. Agree on expectations
  7. Demonstrate a good teacher attitude
  8. Make use of additional teaching resources
  9. Use teaching methods beyond patient care
  10. Be a role model
  11. Provide and encourage feedback
  12. Improve the environment (private space for learning; access to resources; learner-friendly schedule).

Prerequisites for Good ED Teaching Practices:

  1. Competing demands
  2. Time
  3. Lack of resources
  4. Lack of interest
  5. Educational structure
  6. Poor preparation

Impediments to Good ED Teaching Practices:

  1. Attitude
  2. Environment
  3. Enthusiasm and motivation
  4. Receptive student
  5. Role model
  6. Skills
  7. Confidence
  8. Knowledge base

Key Messages: Accomplished ED teachers identify strategies and prerequisites for improving teaching, however impediments to good teaching occur. Adult learning strategies of learner-centredness, contextual relevance and active learning are key in ambulatory teaching.

Additional Resource: One Minute Preceptor by Nursing Education Network

Teaching Perspectives Inventory.

Its a good time, mid year to take some reflection time and take a self review on your education practice. The Teaching Perspectives Inventory (TPI) can provide a framework for this reflective exercise.

What Is The TPI?

  • 45 item inventory.
  • Aids the collation of ideas and thoughts around education
  • 5 main domains of learning, motivation, education goals, teacher role, nature of learners and influence of context.
  • Helps to better understand beliefs-actions-intentions of teaching.
  • On completion provides a Teaching Perspectives profile.

Why Take The TPI?

The Teaching Perspectives Inventory can help if,

  • “Preparing for a teaching evaluation
  • Creating your teacher portfolio
  • Reflecting on your teaching
  • Researching teaching perspectives
  • Curious about different approaches to teaching”

TPI & Good Teaching

Summarising the TPI results into different perspectives for your profile will focus around the following perspectives:

  • Transmission
  • Apprenticeship
  • Developmental
  • Nurturing
  • Social Reform


Teaching Perspectives Inventory

Collins, J. B., & Pratt, D. D. (2011). The teaching perspectives inventory at 10 years and 100,000 respondents: Reliability and validity of a teacher self-report inventoryAdult Education Quarterly61(4), 358-375.

Pratt, D. D. (1998). Five perspectives on teaching in adult and higher education. Krieger Publishing Co.

Pratt, D. D., & Collins, J. B. (2000). The teaching perspectives inventory (TPI).

Education In Healthcare

Introduce and provide an overview of education theories:

  • Constructivism
  • Experiential Learning
  • Communities of Practice (CoP’s)

This is the first presentation from the Nursing Education Network series. All based on microlearning, they will be short quick snippets on education topics to provide an introductory overview.

Tools for Knowledge and Learning: A Guide for Development and Humanitarian Organisations

Journal Club Article: Ramalingam, B. (2006). Tools for knowledge and learning: A guide for development and humanitarian organizations. London: Overseas Development Institute.


“No one should be dying or suffering because knowledge that already exists in one part of the world has not reached other parts. It is up to each of us to take the responsibility to ensure the knowledge flows easily to where it is needed” (Geoff Parcell, Learning to Fly, 2006).

The application of learning and knowledge based strategies derived from learning from lessons of the past and from elsewhere, to then overcome the challenges and boundaries of time and space.

Strategies of the Learning Organisation

A Holistic View of Knowledge and Learning Tools

  • Organisational contexts: Strategic alignment, management behaviours, institutional pressures, funding cycles, historical evolution.
  • Relationships and collaborations: within and across organisation – via networks, ICTs, communications plans; core functions; support functions.
  • Organisational knowledge: Forms and locations; creation, sharing, storage, use; key activities and tools; relevance, how the message is packaged and communicated.

Five Competencies Framework (Collison & Parcell, 2001)

Aim: “To work out how well they are performing against organisationally established criteria for knowledge and learning, and to identify goals and priorities for improvement. The competency framework works on the principle that effective knowledge and learning is based on improving performance in:

  1. Strategy Development
  2. Management Techniques
  3. Collaboration Mechanisms
  4. Knowledge Sharing and Learning Processes
  5. Knowledge Capture and Storage.”

Knowledge Audits: Taking a systematic and strategic approach to knowledge and learning can help to integrate the diverse activities of an organisation, and facilitate more productive processes of knowledge sharing and dialogue between internal and external stakeholders.

Social Network Analysis: a research technique that focuses on identifying and comparing the relationships within and between individuals, groups and systems in order to model the real-world interactions at the heart of organisational knowledge and learning processes.

Most Significant Change (MSC): the process involves the collection of significant change (SC) stories emanating from the field level, and the systematic selection of the most important of these by panels of designated
stakeholders or staff.

Outcome Mapping: As development is essentially about people relating to each other and their environments, the focus is on people.


A facilitator supports use of imagination to think of the ideal workspace, organisation and what the 5 year plan looks like,

Management Techniques

The SECI Approach

“There are four key processes through which tacit and explicit knowledge interact, namely, socialisation, externalisation, combination and internalisation. Together, these processes make up the SECI principles.

  • Socialisation allows to share tacit knowledge
  • Externalisation converts tacit into explicit knowledge
  • Combination combines different types of explicit knowledge
  • Internalisation converts explicit into tacit knowledge.”

SECI model of Knowledge creation.

Lewin’s Force Field Analysis

“Force Field Analysis was developed by Kurt Lewin (1951) and is widely used to inform decision making, particularly in planning and implementing change management programmes in organisations.”

 Activity Based Knowledge Mapping

“Is a tool which enables knowledge inputs and outputs to be
linked in a systematic fashion to ongoing organisational activities and processes – from office mail to strategic reviews.”

Other resources are also discussed.

Team Collaboration

“Team development has been described in terms of five stages, beginning with a simple ‘membership’ group, and working through ‘confrontation’ to a ‘shared-responsibility’ group (Bradford and Cohen, 1998). Bradford and Cohen suggest that the different stages of groups differ in terms of the following characteristics:

• Atmosphere and relationships
• Understanding and acceptance of goals
• Listening and information sharing
• Decision making
• Reaction to leadership
• Attention to the way the group is working.”

Communities of Practice

Action Learning Sets

Six Thinking Hats

Mind Maps or Concept Mapping

Social technologies for collaboration

Knowledge Sharing & Learning

  • Storytelling
  • Peer programs
  • Challenge sessions
  • How to guides
  • Blogs
  • Reviews and retrospects
  • Intranet resources

Additional Resources

Collison, C., & Parcell, G. (2001). Learning to fly: Practical lessons from one of the world’s leading knowledge companies. Capstone Ltd. [GoodReads]

Davies, R., & Dart, J. (2005). The ‘most significant change’(MSC) technique. A guide to its use.

Earl, S., Carden, F., & Smutylo, T. (2001). Outcome mapping: Building learning and reflection into development programs. IDRC, Ottawa, ON, CA.

Ramalingam, B. (2005). Implementing Knowledge Strategies: From Policy to Practice in Development Agencies. ODI Working Paper 244, London: ODI.

#Unconference: Journal Club

Journal Club Article: Carpenter, J. P., & Linton, J. N. (2018). Educators’ perspectives on the impact of Edcamp unconference professional learningTeaching and Teacher Education73, 56-69.

The Unconference or Edcamp

“Similar to other unconferences, Edcamps reject many traditional conference elements such as advance agendas and pre-planned presentations in order to avoid limiting participants’ creativity, collaboration, and engagement.”
Educator Professional Learning Development
“Many educators, scholars, and policy makers concur that educator professional learning is key to the improvement of teaching and student learning.”
Research Aims
1. What were participants’ perceptions regarding the impact of Edcamps on their educational practice?
2. What were participants’ perceptions regarding the impact of Edcamps on their students’ learning?
3. What factors did the participants identify as hindering and supporting their use of what they learned at Edcamps?
Survey sent 4-8 months post participation in an Edcamp.
  • Survey participating educators (N= 105), of which 88% were female.
  • Interview and focus group participants (N= 18), of which 55.6% were female.

The female ratio was consistent with the US education workforce.


  • n=96 (91.4%) of respondents indicated that they had changed their practices as result of their Edcamp participation. Most commonly described changes were use of technology and use of new instructional strategies.
  • Perceived that those changes had some kind of positive impact on student learning, although this impact was not always quantifiable in terms of traditional measures of student achievement such as test scores.
  •  Teacher collaboration increased following Edcamp participation, particularly collaboration facilitated through technology among members of a professional learning network (PLN).
  • Participation provided new experiences for students and enabled students to gain new skills.
  • n=65 (61.9%) of participants reported that they encountered some type(s) of obstacles, barriers, or challenges as they tried to use what they learned via their Edcamp experience.


Self reporting method, also the fact the educators participated in the Edcamp may indicate a motivated sample of educators.


“Participants overwhelmingly asserted that they had changed their practices as a result of their participation in Edcamps.

The Edcamp model appeared to positively affect teaching and learning while respecting the participants’ motivations, autonomy, experiences, and ultimately their professionalism and capacity to engage in complex intellectual work.

Those who organize and facilitate education conferences could apply our findings to identify new possibilities for conference structure and format.”


Carpenter, J. P., & Linton, J. N. (2018). Educators’ perspectives on the impact of Edcamp unconference professional learningTeaching and Teacher Education73, 56-69.