Workshop B


Presenters: Shoumita Dasgupta1, PhD, Karen Symes2, PhD, and Angela Jackson3, MD

  1. Department of Medicine, Biomedical Genetics; Medical Sciences and Education
  2. Department of Biochemistry
  3. Department of Medicine, General Internal Medicine

Target Audience: Teachers of all levels


As educators, whether in the classroom, at the bedside, or in other settings, we are often faced with challenging teaching moments that can be too quickly attributed to a learner’s attitude towards the educational activity. The appearance of unwillingness to engage in what we have to teach makes it easy to make assumptions regarding student motivation. However, as educators it is important not to jump to conclusions, but rather to try to identify the underlying reasons for the student’s behavior. In this workshop, we provide cases for discussion, aimed at moving beyond initial assumptions about the “reluctant learner.”  We provide a mechanism to systematically dissect challenging learner behavior in order to reach the underlying learner issues. These cases are designed to focus on the learners themselves and to initiate discussion on personalized intervention strategies to facilitate individual learning gains. The goal in this session is, through a series of case discussions, for educators in both bedside and classroom settings to develop the skills to effectively identify and address apparently reluctant learners.

Learning Objectives

By the end of this session, participants should be able to:

  1. Illustrate the characteristics of apparently reluctant learners.
  2. Compare and contrast different manifestations of reluctance in an educational setting.
  3. Identify factors contributing to the learner’s perceived reluctance.
  4. Employ appropriate interventions for different types of reluctant learners based on the root causes of their reluctance.

Timeline and Session Plan

The professional development discussion cases themselves have been used previously in a faculty development setting for clinicians, clinician educators, chief residents, basic science educators, and clinician scientists, as well as for the training of near-peer PhD student and post-doctoral Teaching Fellows (TFs) as small group discussion facilitators. The cases were designed originally for teaching in the clinical setting but were then adapted to provide a classroom context for TF training.

This workshop will begin with an interactive overview of successful techniques for small group teaching, and an overview of challenging learners and possible explanations for their apparent reluctance to engage in the learning activity.   This introduction will last approximately 30 minutes.

Participants will be seated at tables based on their primary educational responsibilities, in groups of 8-10 participants, focused on either clinical  or classroom teaching. Each group will be responsible for discussing 3 cases over a period of 35 minutes, and for the remaining 25 minutes, the small groups will report back to the room with their analyses and recommendations for the cases.

At the conclusion of this session, we will have collectively elucidated the root cause of common academic struggles among learners and shared creative approaches to helping these students.