Curriculum planners typically choose among five basic teaching formats, which may be combined in various ways.
- Individualized instruction places responsibility on each person for progressing through prescribed materials or activities at his/her own learning rate.
- Tutorial calls for the instructor to interact with each participant on an individual basis. The learner is generally required to do some reading or other preparation prior to dialogue. There is extensive Socratic interaction between instructor and learner.
- Small group instruction provides for group interaction and participation by either learners alone or learners and an instructor. This format includes both learner-centered discussion and instructor-led seminars.
- Large group, often referred to as the lecture-discussion method, is the "traditional" format. It places responsibility on the teacher for presenting material to participants and controlling the group's progress. The group moves at the same pace.
- Experiential has three major forms:
- Internships - The intern usually assists the efforts of an instructor, a practitioner, or a more advanced learner. Clinical teaching/learning in health professions education falls into this category.
- Learner-initiated projects - The learner has complete responsibility (though assistance may be available). This is distinct from projects required as an assignment in a regular course.
- Participation in scholarship and/or research - The learner participates in an ongoing enterprise as an autonomous individual or as a colleague in research group. This may naturally follow an internship, depending on the learner's capability.
The table below summarizes the advantages and disadvantages of the various teaching strategies.