Clinical and Conceptual Teaching: Closing the Learning Gap

Dr. Adarsh Jha

March 22, 2023


Clinical teaching is about educating medical students, interns and residents in medicine. This entails providing medical knowledge and skills and discussing professional attitudes.

Clinical teachers must know how to interpret student learning and development to teach effectively. This requires careful observation and record-keeping.

Understanding student learning and development

Understanding student learning and development can help instructors to design more personalized and practical courses. It can also help administrators and policymakers better support students’ college journeys.

Students transitioning from high school to university face various challenges, including adjusting to more rigorous coursework and living away from home for the first time. Some students adapt quickly, while others struggle to cope with these changes.

The student learning and development theory explains how students’ developmental stages affect their learning in higher education. Using student development theory can help institutions and administrators develop teaching strategies that address the needs of their diverse students.

The University of Minnesota (UMN) developed a set of seven student learning outcomes and a separate set of seven student development outcomes to guide its teaching and assessment practices. These outcomes have been incorporated into university policy and are used by curriculum committees in developing new courses and for periodic course evaluation projects.

Interpreting student learning and development

Assessing student learning and development is critical to clinical and conceptual teaching. It provides insight into how students are progressing and how they could be better supported and also helps teachers to monitor and review their practice.

The primary purpose of assessment is to establish and improve knowledge about where students are at the beginning and end of their learning journey and what they need to do to achieve their desired outcomes. It enables teachers to assess student understanding of the subject/content and identify interventions, which are modified as required during the learning process.

Evidence-based practice

In evidence-based practice, practitioners across healthcare professions review and evaluate the most current, highest-quality research to inform their care delivery.

This method is based on three main components: best available scientific research, clinical expertise and patient values and circumstances related to their specific healthcare needs and preferences. When applied consistently, it results in optimal patient outcomes.

The evidence-based practice originated in medicine but has spread into various fields. Nurses use this approach to ensure they provide high-quality, safe care.

The use of evidence in nursing is an inherently social process influenced by faculty members (both in class and in clinical settings), nursing staff and interprofessional team members. Educational strategies must consider all of these factors to maximize the impact of their implementation.


The process of decision-making is a complex and time-consuming task. Integrating several factors, such as knowledge and skill (Alter & Coggshall, 2009; Burn & Mutton, 2013).

Clinical and conceptual teachers continuously reference their knowledge of current research-based evidence about teaching and learning. This is important because it helps them to determine how best to support their students’ learning and development.

One of the most challenging aspects of clinical teaching is balancing the needs of a wide range of learners, including medical students, interns and residents. It is also crucial to share medical knowledge and skills with students while encouraging professional attitudes.