Choosing a lesson format

In an ideal world, your selection of lesson format will be informed by your learning outcomes. However, large cohorts and timetabling constraints often mean that we have to work with set conditions and timings and design lessons accordingly.

This table outlines a range of lesson formats and the various strengths and weaknesses of each.

Lesson Format



Ideal for…

Lecture Allows teaching of a large number of learners in one go without repetition.
Can be easier to timetable than booking multiple rooms, multiple times.
Can allow for co-presenting approach.
Learners are required to sit and listen and therefore can be difficult to maintain interest in the lecture – try to keep it interactive perhaps using audience response technology to incorporate a quiz. Inductions.
Workshop Hands-on practice for the learner. Small groups possible. Can allow for co-presenting approach. Possible repetition of sessions. If workshops are being repeated, organisation of room bookings, timetables and teachers/facilitators is required. Literature searching.
Reference management training.
Critical appraisal.
Keeping up to date.
1-2-1 Hands-on practice for the learner.
Tailored to the specific learner’s needs.
Time consuming and therefore not viable to do for all learners. New staff/researchers.
Students needing extra assistance.
NHS staff undertaking systematic reviews.
Online tutorials No room booking required. Alleviates needs for repetition of teaching. Hard to assess learning outcomes – could use a quiz and/or embed into Learning Central. Flipped classroom formats.
Distance learning students.
Webinars No room booking required.
Could be pre-recorded and therefore alleviates the need for repetition of teaching.
Hard to assess learning outcomes as interaction is minimal – could use an online chat forum? Follow-up to online learning.
Distance learning students.
Drop-in sessions Can be delivered at time of need.
Can see several students who are in need of assistance at an allocated time rather than arranging a 1-2-1.
Students can often assist each other.
Cannot guarantee engaging all users as it is optional.
Requires promotion rather than timetabling (although can be timetabled as optional).
Students needing extra assistance.
An alternative to workshops.


In the next section we look at a case study on the flipped classroom lesson format.