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Course syllabus for medical education ATSM

The medical education ATSM course syllabus below lists the minimum requirements for a course to be suitable for the theoretical component of this module. The course should last 2 days.

Any times given or descriptions of activities within a course are given for guidance and as an example only. To establish whether a course is suitable, please compare this syllabus and the syllabus of a course on offer and take advice from your ATSM Preceptor. Please also read our general guidance on ATSM courses.

The College can’t offer advice or information relating to the suitability of courses except for courses run by the RCOG or jointly run by the RCOG and specialist societies.

Course syllabus – lecture topics and

Day 1: Training the Trainers

Introduction to adult learning

  • A brief talk followed by group work.
  • Delegates are divided into two groups. One group lists the reasons for adult learning; the other group lists the attributes of a good learning experience.
  • Each group feeds back to plenary with flipchart.

Mini-talk on teaching and learning

  • Definition of teaching and learning
  • Superficial vs deep learning
  • Assessing learning needs
  • Addressing learning needs – designing teaching methods

Small group exercise/discussion on variety of teaching methods

  • Group A works on ‘how to design a course’
  • Group B works on ‘different teaching methods’
  • Group C works on ‘assessing learning needs’
  • Group D works on ‘how to give feedback’

These groups are facilitator-led. At the end of the group work, a spokesperson from each group summarises the salient points and presents to the whole group.

Plenary: Mini-talk

  • Strengths and weaknesses of different teaching methods
  • Importance and structure of feedback – Pendleton method
  • Introducing task for next group work – presentation skills

Small group exercise: micro-teaching

  • This session should start with a video demonstration of a ‘good’ and a ‘bad’ presentation of a micro-teaching episode. Delegates are asked to comment.
  • Then, in each group one person presents for 5 minutes, one chairs and one (plus faculty member) is the audience.
  • After the 5-minute talk there is 5-minute feedback using Pendleton’s rule.

Requirements: 4 facilitators, 4 rooms, flip charts, overhead projector, etc.

Learning styles

  • Small talk on learning styles followed by group work whereby each delegate completes Home and Mumford learning styles questionnaire and scores them.
  • Small talk about usefulness of using learning styles in teaching and training.

Small group teaching – how can you make it work?

  • Group exercise followed by plenary with whole group, to include discussion of how to make small groups work (4 facilitators).
  • Speaker to lead plenary and give a mini-talk on difficulties with small groups and how to manage them.

How to teach practical skills

  • Mini-talk to whole group, followed by a video demonstration of teaching a skill, e.g. RCOG video on Basic Practical Skills course, ventouse or forcep,s etc.
  • Critically looking at different steps in teaching skills.

Small group exercise: Teaching a practical skill

  • Facilitator-led small group exercise.
  • Reinforcing with video demonstration and facilitator-led discussion

How do I teach on my job? Mini-lecture

  • Simulation – video demonstration
  • The value of simulation
  • Discussion in whole group

Plenary session – discussion of day 1 teaching

Day 2: Assessment and appraisal


  • 20-minute mini-talk to cover the following:
    • What is assessment?
    • Why is assessment is important?
    • Role of the regulators, e.g. PMETB, GMC requirement on quality assurance
    • What do we assess?
    • Types of assessment
    • Outcomes

Small group exercise

  • 20-minute small group exercise involving 4 groups led by facilitators
  • Primary objective is to devise tools for assessing different domains of learning
  • Secondary objective is to briefly discuss the practicality of the use of the assessment tools in run-through O&G training
  • Facilitator should observe how group ‘works’ and provide feedback on this to the group
  • Each group to identify one person who will present the small group’s findings to the whole group

Requirements: 4 facilitators, flip chart, 4 rooms, PowerPoint to highlight the objectives?

  • Group 1 will work on assessment of knowledge
  • Group 2 will work on skills
  • Group 3 will work on sttitude
  • Group 4 will work on outcome standards – i.e. what constitutes a pass or acceptable standard (standard setting)


  • Presentation of each group’s discussions (10 minutes each max) followed by discussion by whole group
  • If possible show a video on workplace-based assessment

Assessment tools used in obstetrics and gynaecology training

  • Assessment of core knowledge MRCOG SAQs, EMQs, MCQs, OSCE
  • Assessment of skills and attitudes
  • Standard setting


  • Mini-talk on appraisal to cover:
    • Definition
    • Difference between assessment and appraisal
    • Assessment of training needs – also to explain the next exercise on induction interview

Induction of training needs – small group exercise

  • Objective: to assess educational needs and set learning objectives
  • Divide into 4 groups
  • One delegate to play the role of a consultant, one a trainee; the others observe
  • One facilitator per group
  • Facilitator to summarise at the end, briefly alluding to SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely) objectives when setting the learning objectives

Plenary: The difficult appraisal

  • A brief introduction to difficult appraisal followed by a small group exercise
  • Delegates divide into pairs; facilitators allocate roles (trainer, trainee)
  • Feedback using Pendleton’s rules

Plenary on difficult appraisal

  • Reinforce the concept of appraisal as an educational process
  • Developmental tool to help trainees in difficulty
  • Performance and appraisal

Elsewhere on the site

Assessment of training
Information about sign-off of competencies, workplace-based assessments, ARCPs and more
Resources and support for trainees
Training guidelines, advice, useful resources and sources of support for trainees