Appraisal and revalidation support for medical professionals

Setting up small learning groups

learnuingIf you are thinking of setting up a small learning group, consider these practicalities:

Group size

Research points to 6-8 as a guide, (1) but there is no magic number. Remember not everyone will make every session. Perhaps more important than size, is motivation. If everyone is determined to make the group work, it will!

Meeting frequency

Monthly, every two months, etc? Diaries out at the end of every meeting, or dates blocked out in advance?

Meeting duration

Your choice, but a typical breakdown might be 20 minutes of social catching up, 60-90 minutes of the main discussion and 20 minutes of evaluating and planning. (1)

Group rules

The principles of adult learning support establishing some simple ground rules to help create a ‘safe’ environment for learning. (2) For example, no question is too silly. Depending on how familiar you are as a group, you may feel no need for this. But if you do decide to set some ground rules, they should be formed and owned by the group. Here’s an example of a learning group’s ground rules:

  • Do any work you promised to do
  • Respect each other
  • Keep the focus central (not too many neighbour-chats)
  • Hear each other out, don’t talk over
  • It should be enjoyable

Group leader

You may decide to rotate organisational roles or one person may take the lead. Either way, it is best to explicitly agree this.

You can find our own Learning Group document templates and other useful documents here >



  1. Wright, P (2013) Self directed learning groups for GPs: a support framework for revalidation. British Medical Journal. 346: Careers GP4-5
  2. Knowles MS, Holton III EF, Swanson RA (2005) The Adult Learner, 6th Edition, Elsevier, Burlington, USA.
All content © Bill Laughey 2015