Preceptor Teaching Tips
1. Avoid using the same teaching-learning approach for everyone.
Some students are visual, oral or written learners, some concrete and some abstract, and others are multidimensional. Recognize that your style of learning may be very different from the student’s.
2. Spend some time to know your student.
Find out your student’s talents, prior experiences, and learning needs Knowing the student’s current knowledge base and readiness to learn helps both of you know how much work you have ahead of you. This is essential to help the student see the gap between where they are and where they need to be.
3. Create a positive and safe learning environment.
Students are more likely to take risks when the preceptor creates a safe environment.
Allow students the opportunity to learn from their mistakes.
Establish mutual trust, respect, and support.
4. Give frequent feedback along the way, not just at the end.
Students need to have information about their behavior and performance as they are learning. Focus on the performance, not the person. Involve the learner in the self-evaluation process.
5. Share your passion for nursing and health care.
If the teacher has passion for the art and science of nursing and/or health care, the student is likely to catch it. You are teaching by example all of the time. Students learn as much from observing your behavior and communication of caring as they do from listening.
6. Repeat the important points.
Give the most important points more than once and in various ways. The first time something is stated it is heard and will be recognized, but it takes repetition and application to be learned. Repeat the important points!
7. Ask questions.
Learning requires exploring the unknown and considering ideas from a different perspective. The preceptor guides the student to seek a deeper understanding. For example, “how does that work?” “What would have happened if we had done exactly opposite of what you suggested?” You are teaching how to think. Ask questions that encourage students to demonstrate the thinking process that led to the right answer.
8. Talk out loud about your decision making process.
Share your thought process that led to making decisions. Problem solving skills can be learned. Point out the factors in the clinical situation that guided your thinking.
9. You don’t have to be perfect.
Acknowledging that you don’t know something shows you are still learning. The student expects you to know the answers to most questions, but does not expect you to be perfect.
10. Sometimes “less is more”.
Making one or two teaching points in a case may be better than trying to have the learner focus in on all possible learning points.
11. Break larger tasks into step by step skills.
Give feedback on the performance of each step of the procedure. After each step is mastered, the learner can work on seamlessly accomplishing the larger task.