The art of education: Why do we teach skills the way we do?

Amy Seymour-Walsh, Paul Worley, Anna Vnuk, Hugh Grantham

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Purpose: When did you last feel like a square peg in a round hole? In two recent studies comparing the effectiveness of a widely advocated 4-stage skill teaching approach (4SA) and a more traditional 2-stage approach (2SA), we observed that compliance to the 4SA1 was significantly lower than 2SA. In a follow-up multi-faceted qualitative study, we sought to understand why.

    Methods: Through a series of surveys, follow-up interviews, a focus group and a teacher debrief, we sought to understand the educator's perspective of 4SA in this qualitative review. Data were gathered from advanced life support (ALS) instructors and other clinical educators shortly after learning and practising the 4SA. Analysis principles from grounded theory2 were applied to this phenomenological study, and thematic analysis of the data was performed.

    Results: Common emerging themes include the cognitive load on the teacher, and the art of education, which is sometimes in conflict with an understanding of the benefits, difficulties, and practicalities of employing specific teaching tools and strategies.

    Conclusions: The overarching themes revealed that a pre-defined teaching strategy can be useful for some educators; however, it can hinder the established educator from flourishing in his or her art of teaching. This restriction, intended to improve their efficacy, actually increases their cognitive load. The implementation of such education tools, even when firmly grounded in educational theory, should be flexible in recognising teaching as a dynamic art. As such, teaching and learning are more than a simple activity in which an intellectual transaction occurs. This study forces us to examine: Why do we teach the way we do?
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)e13-e13
    Number of pages1
    Issue numberSupplement 1
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2016


    • teaching approach
    • grounded theory
    • educational theory


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