Small group learning is an important educational strategy. It is an effective learning method because it promotes:
- active participation of learners
- deep learning
- application and development of ideas
- development of transferable skills, e.g. team working, problem solving, collaboration
- interprofessional opportunities.
In addition to being an effective learning method, small group learning offers experience of working in a group and, therefore, helps students to acquire group skills essential for future practice.
Group skills are essential in the medical profession where working in a team is an important aspect of holistic health care.
Skills that participation in small group teaching will develop include:
- understanding the difficulties that can arise in groups
- developing self-confidence through expressing and defending ideas
- prioritising tasks
- time management
- interpersonal skills.
There is increasing use of ‘expert patients’ in undergraduate medical education, specifically gynaecology teaching associates within obstetrics and gynaecology. These women have been trained to both undergo and teach gynaecological examination while simultaneously providing instruction and immediate feedback to students. This method, compared to conventional teaching by physicians demonstrated increased acquired competence and self-assessed confidence.