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From lectures to videos, discussions and quizzes

Online tools, problem-solving teaching in groups and other new initiatives have replaced the traditional lectures in psychiatry for medical students on the Master’s degree programme. The result is better learning, a higher rate of attendance and revitalisation – also for associate professors and professors, concludes Ole Mors, who is professor and chair of psychiatry.

2016.11.24 | Nanna Jespersgård

The result is better learning, a higher rate of attendance and revitalisation – also for associate professors and professors, concludes Ole Mors, who is professor and chair of psychiatry.

A severely depressed man appears on the computer screen. He has tried to take his own life and, in the video, he is now talking to the doctor who will make a diagnosis based on what is known as a semi-structured, diagnostic interview. The questioning technique is part of the syllabus for the psychiatry course, and after a few minutes the patient case is frozen and an assignment appears on the screen for the medical students: "What would you ask about now?”

Videocases with feedback and training in diagnosing patients are one of several new forms of instruction which have arisen as a consequence of the increase in the number of students on the fourth semester of the Master’s degree programme. To make room for an extra class of students in the clinical departments, half of the previous lectures had to be abolished. And that kick-started the lecturers thinking about teaching and learning in a new way, explains Ole Mors, professor and chair of psychiatry at The Department of Clinical Medicine, and also head of the Research Unit for Psychoses at Aarhus University Hospital in Risskov.

"We had to change the way we taught, because course days were abolished in favour of clinical training. And we have all found this to be a much-needed change and improvement. Before then we did things more or less like we always had, even though lectures are not a good form of instruction,” says Ole Mors.

They listen more attentively and there is more discussion

Ole Mors has been pleasantly surprised by the switch to forms of instruction such as Blended Learning, which combines computer-mediated teaching such as video presentations with actual physical attendance.

"Video with embedded assignments has shown itself to function better than lectures as a starting point for undertaking clinical training with interviews of real patients under supervision. The penny drops for them when learning is utilised along the way,” says Ole Mors, who underlines that the participants in the video are not real patients, but colleagues acting out the scenes.

The principles of applied learning are also found in Team Based Learning (TBL). This is where the students come to lessons and discuss and bring newly acquired knowledge into play in groups, which contrasts with previously, where they primarily came to listen to a lecture. The psychiatry course has thus far introduced Team Based Learning for cases with schizophrenia, abuse and suicidal behaviour; autism and anxiety; personality disorders and self-injuring behaviour; and for depression and delirium as a precursor for dementia.

Self-test via quiz

Before each TBL session, the students have to read specific parts of the syllabus, which focus directly on the three-hour lesson, which is run by the lecturer, but which is also student-activating. The session always starts with an individual readiness test. After the individual test, exactly the same questions are answered in small groups – hence the name, Team Based Learning. The answers from the group test are shown simultaneously for all groups. This can e.g. be done in the form of the online quiz program Kahoot, where students use mobile phones to answer questions, or via green or red cards for correct and incorrect answers. The lecturer reveals the correct answers on an ongoing basis, often using individual slides.

After the two preliminary tests, the groups are fully prepared to take on the day’s most important assignment; a patient case that must be diagnosed and treated. Just like in the real world – and at the exam!

"It quickly becomes clear that group discussion raises the level for all of the students who are in turn asked to present the group's answers and the underlying reasoning. The lesson ends with the lecturer’s comments, summing up and additional information where required," explains Ole Mors. He estimates that approximately 40 out of the 60 students come to Team Based Learning. That is more than at traditional lectures in the past.

Psychiatry has received practical assistance from CESU, The Centre for Health Sciences Education, in connection with the change in forms of instruction. CESU is a research, development and consultancy unit under Health at Aarhus University. Ole Mors does not hesitate to recommend that others should seek assistance before beginning a similar process.

"CESU has a range of activities that you can make use of, and changing over to new forms of instruction is a major task. But at the same time, it has been really fun to be part of, and we have revitalised both the teaching and ourselves," says Ole Mors.

Further information:

Professor Ole Mors
Aarhus University, Department of Clinical Medicine and
Aarhus University Hospital, Risskov
Direct tel.: (+45) 2947 9780
Email: ole.mors@clin.au.dk



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