Monday, September 27, 2010

Effective Workshops

Last week, a few members of the Palmer faculty attended a workshop by Dr. Kristi Ferguson of the University of Iowa. Her presentation was dedicated to providing faculty with information about how to teach not students, but other faculty. In her presentation, she cited the work of Dr. Yvonne Steinert, who has provided a list of tips for conducting effective workshops (1). Among her tips are the following:

Planning Phase

1. Defining your objectives for the teaching session. What are you trying to achieve in your workshop? Is this related to skills acquisition or to changing attitudes? You should determine what your goals are, because this will impact on the methods you use to teach, your course strategies, your activities and your assessment methods.

2. Find out who your audience is. If we are limited to just members of the PCC faculty, this could be broken down into such groupings as full faculty, life sciences faculty, clinical sciences faculty, clinician faculty, etc. You would not want to include, for example, life sciences faculty if the main goal of your presentation is to discuss new diagnostic methods; perhaps you might not wish to include clinicians if your goal is to discuss large group teaching strategies. You need to understand whether or not the group you are presenting to will know core concepts in your area of discussion.

3. Determine your teaching method and design the appropriate workshop activities. There are so many options here. You can use video, audiotapes, live demonstrations, small group or large group activities, and so on. Your teaching method should fold back onto the goals of your program, and you should also be aware of the group’s past experiences with various teaching methodologies.

Workshop Phase

4. Introduce the members to you and to each other. You can use whatever strategy you want to , depending on the size of the group you are working with. But this knowledge is useful for you in moving forward with your presentation and beginning the process of developing a relation with your audience.

5. Outline your objectives for the teaching session. You should let the group know in advance what it is you hope to accomplish in the workshop. Let me people know what to expect, and let them have a schedule of events for the workshop.

6. Create a relaxed atmosphere for learning. Cooperation and collaboration is essential. Ensuring that people feel comfortable and free to ask questions is equally important. I find that when there is a need to use small group activities, it is best to make sure that introductions have already occurred, because some people are not comfortable in those settings, and feeling comfortable helps them engage more effectively.

I will continue next week with the remainder of Dr. Steinert’s recommendations.

1. Steinert Y. Twelve tips for conducting effective workshops. Med Teacher 1992;14:127-131

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