Planning Perfect Training/Teaching sessions with 4MAT

  • 05/31/2021
  • Posted by TLP Admin

Throughout your career you will no doubt be expected to deliver numerous training or teaching sessions, especially when you move into a leadership and management role. The 4MAT planning system is an excellent way to ensure that you plan (and deliver) effective and impactful teaching sessions every time!

4MAT was developed in the 1970’s by Dr. Bernice McCarthy, a teacher who has gone on to win numerous awards for her work. The 4MAT model has been used in field such as medicine, equation and engineering. Dr. McCarthy noticed that when working with students, those students would typically be interested in 1 of 4 questions when attending her teaching sessions.

These questions are as follows:

  1. Why? – Why am I learning this topic or subject?
  2. What? – What am I actually learning in this lesson?
  3. How? – How is this going to be delivered or taught to me? 
  4. What if? – What if I learn about this topic or subject? How does this topic or subject benefit me? What are its practical applications in the real world?

If you think about the teaching sessions you have attended in the past (including those in school) there was probably a heavy emphasis on the “what” as your teacher or trainer imparted lots of knowledge to you. However, McCarthy’s model demonstrates that a heavy emphasis on “what” will only appeal to 25% of the students in a class. By failing to address the Why, How and What If questions, as teachers we run the risk of alienating those students that are interested in these question. In an ideal teaching session we should address all 4 questions.

As teachers we can use 4MAT in 2 very effective ways to plan and design impactful teaching sessions every time. Planning and introducing your teaching session

Planning your teaching session.

The 4MAT system allows us to identify key questions that should be addressed as we plan our teaching sessions.

  1. Why – Why am I, as a teacher, delivering this teaching session? What are my objectives?
    Why are my students attending this teaching session? What are their objectives?
  2. What – What information do I need to impart or skills do I need to demonstrate in order to achieve my objectives and the objectives of my students?
  3. How – How can I best impart the knowledge or demonstrate the skills required? There are numerous ways we can do this, such as slides, videos, flipcharts, case studies, discussions, demonstrations on dummies, cadavers and even live patients! My personal tip here would be to try as much as possible to avoid death by PowerPoint! Use slides sparingly!
  4. What if – What will the actual pay off be for my students and me? How will this knowledge or skills help them in their day jobs?