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close this bookTeaching for Better Learning (WHO, 1992, 197 p.)
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View the documentAbout this book
View the documentForeword
View the documentAcknowledgements
Open this folder and view contentsPart 0: Introduction to this book
Open this folder and view contentsPart 1: What should your students learn?
Open this folder and view contentsPart 2: How you can help your students learn
Open this folder and view contentsPart 3: Finding out how much your students have learned
Open this folder and view contentsPart 4: Preparing teaching materials
View the documentExplanation of terms used in this book

Explanation of terms used in this book

academic discipline

A branch of instruction or learning, such as anatomy, physiology, ophthalmology or history.

active learning

The way in which students learn by doing things, such as solving problems, doing a project or working in a health centre. Sitting listening to a lecture or reading a book is not active learning (Section 6.5).


The process of testing a student's ability or skill. This may be done in an examination or by more informal methods.


A tendency to behave or think in a certain way. for example, one health worker may refuse to see patients when the health centre is closed. Another may be willing to see patients at any time. This is because they have different attitudes to their job.

book learning

The kind of learning that can be achieved by reading books. The phrase is usually used to imply that what is learned is too theoretical and not sufficiently practical to be useful.

case history

The information about a patient that is used in treatment. It includes details of the patient's symptoms, the results of any tests or examinations performed, and treatment.


Associated with thinking (see also skill).


The process of transferring information or skills to other people. For communication to take place, a message must be sent by one person and received by the other. Communication is not just a matter of speaking or writing. It also involves listening to and accepting other people's opinions and beliefs. Skills in communication are very important in health care (see skill).


A group of people who live in the same geographical area such as a village or part of a city. The word can also be used to refer to a group of people who have something in common, such as a religion or a profession. critical incident studies Studies of events or situations that trained health workers have not felt able to handle. By analysing these incidents, the teacher can find out where more training is required.


The written description of what happens during a course. It describes the objectives of the course, the teaching methods, the amount of time allotted to each part of the course, and the methods to be used to assess the students. The word curriculum is also used to describe what actually happens during the course (which may not be the same as the written curriculum).

curriculum design

The process of planning a curriculum for a course. Briefly, this involves deciding:

- what the students need to learn;
- what teaching methods will be used;
- how students will be assessed;
- the time and place where students will learn (the timetable).


The process of collecting information about assessing the value of a course, a book, a lesson or even a student. Evaluation may be used to improve the quality of the course or teaching material. This type of evaluation is called formative evaluation. Evaluation may also be used to describe and assess the overall value of the course or teaching material. This is called summative evaluation.


A person who makes things easier. For example, a teacher should be a facilitator of learning - i.e., the teacher should make it easier for students to learn.


The process of telling people how well they are doing. For example, teachers give feedback to students whenever they comment on the quality of the students' work. Ideally, the teacher should point out how well the work has been done, any errors or faults, and how the quality could be improved (Section 6.6).

field experience

Experience of doing the job in the community. Trainee health workers often join qualified health workers for periods of attachment. In this way they gain experience of doing the job for which they are being trained. The students work under supervision, and are given feedback on their performance (see feedback).

health care team

A group of people who provide health care in a community. This may include a midwife, a nurse, a health inspector, a health educator, a nutritionist, a health extension officer, and/or a doctor.

job description

A description of the work that a particular category of health worker is expected to do. It usually consists of a list of the tasks to be done, such as "measure blood pressure" or "select sites for wells". It may also describe the conditions under which the work will be done.


The process of acquiring information or skills. For example, students can learn from reading books or manuals, listening to lectures, and practicing what they have been taught (see active learning).

learning experience

Anything which happens to a student that helps him or her to learn. For example, a student might visit a village where the people have improved the water supply. If the student learned how other villages could do the same, this would be a learning experience.

lesson plan

The set of notes that teachers write to guide themselves as they give a lesson. The lesson plan might include the main points to be covered in the lesson, activities for the students to do, questions related to the topic being taught and some form of assessment.


A book that describes in detail how to do various tasks. The word manual is now often used to describe any book that provides information.

MCH clinic

A maternal and child health clinic. The staff are responsible for checking the growth and health of children and mothers and for providing preventive health care (see preventive health care).

mother tongue

The language spoken by a person at the time when he or she first learns to speak.


Interest or drive which causes a person to behave in a certain way. For example, a student with a strong motivation will tend to work hard and learn quickly. Motivation is also used to describe the process of encouraging or "motivating" a person. For example, motivation occurs when a student is inspired or persuaded to study hard. This may be because the teacher has made the course more interesting, easier to learn, or more relevant to the job (Chapter 6).


The target or goal of teaching. For example, when the students have completed the course, they should be able to do tasks such as "construct a latrine" or "teach mothers how to breast-feed a baby".

patient-management problem

An exercise based on a case report, which can be used to help students to learn (as a basis for discussion or in selfassessment) or as a method of assessment. Briefly, the students are given some information about a case and are then asked to answer a series of questions (see Section 12.5).


A person who is of the same ability or standing. For example, a student's peers are the other students on the course. A teacher's peers are the other teachers.

preventive health care

Health care designed to prevent people becoming ill, rather than to cure them once they are ill. Examples of preventive health care include immunization, education, monitoring growth of children, and eliminating sources of disease.

reference materials

Books, records, notes, tables or other sources of information used by students or health workers in order to find factual information.


A measure of the accuracy and consistency of the marking of tests or examinations. For example, if a student was given a mark of 75% by one examiner and 50% by another examiner for the same performance, the reliability of the marking would be poor.


Anything that is needed to do a job. For example, some of the resources needed for running a course are a classroom, teachers, and writing materials.


The process of testing and judging one's own performance. For example, a student who attempts some problems, then looks up the answers to see how well he or she has done is using self-assessment. Self-assessment can help students to learn.

situation analysis

The process of finding out exactly what a health worker should do in his or her work. This leads to a list of all the tasks done by the health worker.


The ability to perform a task through the application of knowledge and experience. There are different kinds of skills. For example, cognitive skills are skills of thinking such as making decisions or reaching a diagnosis. Psychomotor skills are skills of coordinating the mind and body. For example, stitching a wound is a psychomotor skill - deciding whether stitching is appropriate is a cognitive skill. Communication skills are the skills of talking, explaining, persuading and listening.


A written description of what should be learned by the students in a course. Usually it is a brief statement outlining the topics to be covered.


Anything that a person does as part of his or her job. For example, a health inspector may investigate water tanks to find out whether they could be breeding sites for mosquitos task analysis The process of studying a task in order to find out exactly how the task is done and exactly what knowledge and attitudes are needed in order to do the task.

teaching materials

Materials that help students to learn, such as books, handouts, models, exercises, and written questions.


A person who is being trained. For example, a trainee health worker is a person who is being trained to be a health worker.


The style of lettering. If teaching materials are printed, there is usually a wide choice of typefaces available. The typeface can vary in size, boldness and style. For example, the letter "a" may be printed as an italic "a" or in various styles of roman lettering e.g. "a".


A measure of the usefulness of tests or examinations. A test is valid if it really does test the kinds of skill or knowledge that the students need in order to do a job. For example, if a teacher wants to find out whether students can measure blood pressure' he or she might ask them to write an essay on " The reasons for measuring blood pressure". This would not be valid. A valid test would be to ask the students to measure a patient's blood pressure and to watch them doing the task.

visual aid

Anything that is used to show a diagram or picture. For example, if a teacher wants to explain an idea to the students, he or she will often draw a diagram or picture on the blackboard or chalkboard, or show photographs, films, or flip charts, etc.


A meeting at which a group of people learn together. Often they will meet to discuss and solve a specific problem. Sometimes the workshop is more like a short course in which the participants discuss problems, attempt projects, and learn skills.