Teaching: Timing – Part 1 – When to give Essentials resources to students

Teaching: Timing – Part 1 – When to give Essentials resources to students

Life & Death Matters Post

College instructors teaching the “Essentials in Hospice Palliative Care” materials in Health Care Worker education programs have asked me:

When is the best time to introduce the Essentials resources to the students?

When is the best time to teach the HPC Module?

I can shed some light on how I make these decisions, with the understanding that as every college, every class and every instructor is different from the next, it will be important for you to develop your own plan for integrating this topic into your teaching.

As you formulate your plan, there are these three things I would need to consider:

  1. When do I give the students the Essentials HPC resources?
  2. When do I  assign the Reflective Writing from the Study Guide?
  3. When do I start teaching the Essentials in HPC module in the overall program?

This post addresses when to give students the resources while future posts will discuss items 2 and 3.

My own perspective on the advantages and disadvantages of giving students the “Essentials in Hospice Palliative Care” resources early in the teaching term are summarized in the table below. (Let me know if there any that you think of to add to this list!)

Students may look through the resources on their own if they are available, hopefully sparking interest and diminishing anxiety.The text and study guide may be forgotten until they are required in class.
Students may develop the understanding that a palliative approach can be integrated early in caregiving and does not have to be left until the last hours.In exploring on their own, students may feel overwhelmed by content or the depth of information.
Instructors and students have ample opportunity to prepare for the “Essentials in Hospice Palliative Care” module.
Students could explore and become familiar with the podcast technology  before the teaching begins.If there are a number of instructors, you will have to collaborate on when to introduce the materials
Students could refer to the HPC resources if related topics arise e.g. family member dealing with chronic illness or dying.

Granted I am probably a bit biased, but from my perspective it is clear that giving the materials early is the best option. This puts the control in the students’ hands, which can on occasion, energize a student to do some exploring on their own.   Students often like to look ahead to see what is coming next, both out of curiousity and to comfort themselves that upcoming content is manageable. Giving out the Essentials resources early in the program gives students this opportunity. Feedback from instructors teaching in 2011-2012 also felt that this was a positive experience for the students.

Therefore when planning your program, try to give Essentials resources to the students before they need them. Early enough so that they will look at them but not so early that they get buried on their desk!

In my next posts I’ll talk about ways to engage the students with the HPC content early in the program, so that when you start teaching, they’ll be ready to learn!

2 Responses

  1. In general, I agree that providing the Educator’s Resources early on is a good idea, for all the reasons given above. However, there might be a third alternative, to avoid the valid disadvantages (including just too much material all at once) — which is to decide which resources are best given before the actual courses, and which might be better given during the course or afterwards (especially if they are additional resources that a student would be considering after the course).

    1. That an excellent idea -to divide the resources so that all do not have to be given at one time. As well, the instructors may want to decide which materials to give early, based on how the materials dovetail with other topics being taught.
      I think that one thing stands out for me. If you can have the students thinking about a hospice palliative approach right from the beginning of their learning, then it becomes a treatment option that is equally valid to curative treatments.

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Courtney Murrell is a PSW who works in hospice palliative care.

When she is not at work, she is spending time with her family, going on hikes or writing. Courtney is a lifelong learner and loves to share her passion for writing as a wellness practice.

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