Enriching Educators' Repertoire of Appropriate Instructional Methods

Publication ID Published Volume
7968 April 9, 2010 6


Educators frequently depend on familiar teaching methods to achieve their educational objectives, reporting limited knowledge of alternative instructional methods. "From Madness to Methods" was developed to actively engage educators in learning and applying new instructional methods.
During this 1½ hour exercise, participants begin by writing 1-2 objectives drawn from their own teaching or can draw from deck of pre-printed ACGME-linked objective cards. Facilitator deals from the 75 pre-printed methods cards. An objective card is then revealed and participants select one method card from their hand and attempt to enthusiastically persuade the other group members that their selected method is the most suitable to achieve the objective. Participants vote for the best method presented in that round and receive one point for each vote. Play continues until all participants have had at least 1 objective reviewed. Upon conclusion of the exercise, each player identifies 1-2 new methods to pilot.

The packet contains a detailed instructor's guide and the 5 exercise components: methods cards, objectives cards, write you own objectives form, score sheet, and exercise instructions. From Madness to Methods has proven to be an engaging and effective approach to expanding educator's repertoire of teaching methods and strategies.

We have received consistently high ratings for this exercise as evidenced by tabulated descriptive statistics and positive narrative comments focusing on the quality and effectiveness of the exercise. The "From Madness to Methods" exercise has been conducted several times during different faculty development sessions at the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW). Faculty participants, on average rated the exercise 6.4 (1=poor to 7=excellent) for learning and content with 93% of participants piloting a new teaching method when meeting one month later. The exercise was conducted at the March 2009 CGEA meeting in Rochester, MN and an average rating of 6.5 was received from the participants. Comments written were: "interesting new strategy to use with my faculty", "fun way to learn", "hall of mirrors" using a technique to learn a technique", "active learning" and "interactive". The exercise was presented at the May 2009 Pediatric Academic Society conference to approximately 40 educators. Average rating of 6.7 (1=poor to 7=excellent) was received. In addition to obtaining positive responses from all the exercises, many of the participants requested the list of all the methods and/or the actual exercise itself. Exercise has subsequently been used by other faculty development colleagues with equally positive results.

Another Midwestern medical school has utilized the M2M exercise with their faculty and earned a rating of 6.1 (1=poor to 7=excellent). Samples of comments received are: "a chance to dialogue with other educators about use of various teaching methods", "interactive", "synergistic ideas were shared", and "stimulated to think of innovative ways of incorporating new methods". Our experience with educators confirms that Methods to Madness is an effective exercise to expand educator's knowledge of available multiple teaching methods and support piloting of new methods.


Simpson D, Fenzel J, Rehm J, Marcdante K. Enriching educators' repertoire of appropriate instructional methods. MedEdPORTAL Publications. 2010;6:7968. http://doi.org/10.15766/mep_2374-8265.7968

Educational Objectives

  1. To be able to describe multiple teaching strategies/instructional methods and be able to select the method(s)/strategy(ies) matched to achieve his/her individual educational objectives.
  2. To be able to successfully pilot a method/strategy with learners to achieve objectives.
  3. To be able to report back to colleagues regarding key successes and challenges associated with the piloted method/strategy.


  • Instructional Methods, Instructional Strategies, Educational Models, Education

Prior Scholarly Dissemination


  1. Simpson D. Fenzel J. Braza D. Brown D. Marcdante K. Rehm J. Sebastian J. Poster Presentation at the Association of Academic Physiatrists Annual Meeting February 2009, Colorado Springs on enhancing teaching strategies through faculty development.
  2. Brousseau D, Moraski L, Warwick A, Marcdante K. Workshop at the Academic Pediatric Society May 2009, Baltimore on instructional strategies/teaching methods.
  3. Fenzel J, Simpson D, Marcdante K, Brousseau D, Warwick A. Workshop at the AAMC-CGEA Annual Meeting March 2009, Mayo/Rochester on expanding educators' repertoire of teaching methods.

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ISSN 2374-8265