Clinical Teaching in Education

Assoc Prof Larissa McLean Davies, Dr Nicky Dulfer, Dr Jeana Kriewaldt , Assoc Prof Suzanne Rice, Dr Daniela Acquaro, Dr Christine Redman, Ms Catherine Reid, and Dr Teresa Angelico | View as single page |Feedback/Impact

Focus on student learning and development


An important characteristic of clinical teaching is the focus on student learning and development. As with other clinical professions; understanding and interpreting the needs of each client is fundamental (Alter & Coggshall, 2009; Burn & Mutton, 2013) in deciding on the best course of action. Teaching requires teachers to not only have a deep understanding of subject content, but be able to identify and address the diverse needs of their students.


By understanding how students learn (Darling-Hammond, 2006), teachers are able to determine what stage of the developmental continuum they are at, and adapt their teaching accordingly. What is important to note here, is that a clinical model of teaching recognises that each child is able to be successful but in order to do this teaching must centre on individual student needs in setting meaningful learning goals to advance learning.


Central to interpreting student learning and development, is a teacher’s ability to collect various forms of data in order to determine what a student is able to do in relation to where the teacher wants them to reach. Examples of data may include assessment and observations of a student’s context, knowledge, skills or dispositions which serve to inform the teacher’s clinical judgement about how best to plan in order to assist the student to achieve their next set of learning goals. Through careful observation, record keeping and analysis, teachers can ascertain current levels of student knowledge and understanding from which to build on.


A focus on student learning and development also relies on developing productive pedagogical relationships with students. Building these relationships requires teachers to comprehensively know their subject and how to teach it, to understand the abilities and needs of their students and to create high quality learning environments (Alter & Coggshall, 2009). Positive interpersonal relationships between teacher and students make a significant contribution to advancing students learning. Clinical teaching fosters relational aspects of teaching in conjunction with developmental goals for each student.



Evidence base and references


Alter, J. & Coggshall, J. (2009) Teaching as a clinical practice profession: Implications for teacher preparation and state policy. New York: National Comprehensive Centre for Teacher Quality.


Burn, K. & Mutton, T. (2013) Review of research informed clinical practice in initial teacher education. Research and Teacher Education: the BERA-RSA Inquiry.


Darling-Hammond, L. (2006) Powerful teacher education: Lessons from exemplary programs.  San Francisco: Jossey Bass.