The Use of Small Group Tutorials as an Educational Strategy in Medical Education

Helena Ann Ferris


Small group tutorials are an educational strategy that is growing in popularity in medical education. This is indicative of the movement from a traditional teacher centred approach to more student-centred learning, which is characterised by active participation and autonomous learning (Hedge et al, 2011). However, small group teaching is one of the most difficult and highly skilled teaching techniques and should be planned carefully (Harden & Laidlaw, 2012). It also demands, a higher teacher: student ratio and both teachers and students should be thought how to work with it (Jacques & Salmon, 2007). In addition, small group learning comes with its own unique leadership challenges, namely participative leadership. Fostering leader inclusiveness at an undergraduate stage through small group tutorials instils a mutual respect and encourages the sharing of knowledge across professional borders (Mitchell et al, 2015).

It is important to assess whether or not one’s innovative endeavours in instituting small group tutorials are effective. This can be achieved by either examining the end product i.e. grades or by analysing the process of interaction in the group (De long et al, 2010). In practice, both methods provide valuable data for personal and professional development. One may ask what implications this discussion has for our future practice? There is a need for the implementation of small group teaching as a complimentary educational strategy in medical education. Moreover, there is an immediate need for leadership programs so that future doctors are armed with the tools to manage the trials and tribulations of medical education and modern medical practice.


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International Journal of Higher Education
ISSN 1927-6044 (Print) ISSN 1927-6052 (Online) Email:

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