Indmedica - India's Premier Medical Portal - Cyber Lectures

Teaching and Learning

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Learning Objectives:

  1. Define teaching and learning.
  2. Enumerate principles of learning.
  3. Apply these principles in actual class room situation.

“A teacher can never truly teach, unless he is still learning himself.”
Rabindranath Tagore

The contemporary thinking in medical education, tends to lay emphasis on “teaching-learning”, as opposed to the greater importance previously attached to “teaching” alone. Presently the educationist is more interested in understanding what and how students learn, why some of them do not learn and when do they learn better. Whatever they learn, is it relevant to the health needs of the community? What should they learn in this reference and how? Hence, the attention is more focused on learning and the learner.


The purpose of teaching is to facilitate learning and encourage the learners to learn more effectively. The purpose of teaching is not mere dispensing of information, but to develop life long learning habits.

It is wrong to presume that all the information transmitted to the student is always learnt or since that does not happen, a lot more information should be transmitted so that something will be learnt ! It is also wrong to presume that our students are immature and irresponsible. The students tend to behave in a manner similar to what they are considered to be. If they are considered to be responsible, they behave in a responsible manner.

Presently the educationists feel that the role of teacher is not of bossing around and being authoritative. The major role of teacher is to be a considerate and friendly person, to create an appropriate atmosphere for effective learning, so that the learning is an enjoyable process and is a pleasure.

Are we, as teachers and students together, able to create such an atmosphere in our institutions? We need to think more and more about such matters. We need to undertake a continuous objective analysis of the teaching – learning process. To do the same, we need to be aware about the different factors and forces involved in the process.

Let us consider in this context, learning in more detail.


What is learning? Learning is a process resulting in some change ormodification in the learners’ way of thinking, feeling and doing. The change may be temporary or permanent.

How do we learn? Learning begins with a new experience. The new experience may be by seeing, touching, tasting, smelling, hearing or feeling. We have learnt everything through some such experience.

The more effective the learning experience, better is the learning. Provision of more effective learning experiences depends on the teacher. Therefore, depending on the ability of teacher to deliver an effective lecture or conduct a clinic or demonstrate an experiment, the consequent learning would be satisfactory or unsatisfactory.

The new experience is just a beginning step in the process of learning. Further processes involved are : new experience – registration and analysis – reflection – action and analysis – another experience or exposure – and repetition of the process, till a demonstrable change occurs in the learner.

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