How to give a Seminar Course for Young Psychiatrists; Nairobi March 2007 David Goldberg, Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College, London
Two kinds of seminar CLINICAL: these may be getting worse than once they were ACADEMIC: these are, or should be, getting a lot better
Clinical Seminars(as they once were) When a case was presented, the attempt was made to understand the development of the disorder; in terms of genetic endowment (in so far as this was ever known), personality, adverse development and affective change. Many psychotic illnesses can be understood in this way; schizophrenia or an organic process was diagnosed when the attempt failed.
Clinical Seminarsas they often are now The trainee fits the patient on to the nearest DSM-4 category; if a personality disorder is present it must conform to DSM-4 description, and is declared to be “co-morbid” with it. Other disorders can also be present, on other axes. The attempt to understand is, well, old-fashioned
Academic Seminarsas they usually were Each week, two doctors were chosen to read a paper; the seminar leader and the other doctors listened to the presentation how many of you recognise this? what is wrong with it?
Academic Seminarsas they usually were Each week, two doctors were chosen to read a paper; the seminar leader and the other doctors listened to the presentation PROBLEM: Most of the doctors were passive listeners, and the quality was limited by the ability of the presenting doctor. We can do much better than that!
Four better kinds: • Active problem solving • Seminars on your own special interest • Seminars followed by exercises • Critical seminars
Active problem solving - 1 These need careful forward planning. You can discuss up to two problems per week. For each problem, choose about three papers making different contributions to it; and then write down the problem in the form of a question Divide the students into groups of six; give ALL students a paper to read a week beforehand, but do not tell them the question
Some examples…. In what way can social conditions ever cause a mental disorder? How does the environment increase, or decrease, the probability of gene expression in the phenotype?
Active problem solving - 2 On the day of the seminar, the students are given the question and meet for at least one hour. During this time they must present their papers to one another, and devise the best answer the the question. One acts as rapporteur, another as A-V person with felt pens and OHPs. (If desired, a-v materials can be prepared beforehand).
Active problem solving - 3 Both groups of students now come together with the seminar leader, and present their answers to him or her. Students can ask questions of one another, and the leader If two problems have been discussed, each group presents their own problem.
Active problem solving - 4 ADVANTAGE: All students read something beforehand, and are actively engaged in the discussion with one another. It is economical of the teacher’s time, as it is not necessary to be present at their earlier meeting
Seminar on your special interest -1 Get the students – as many as six – to prepare different papers (preferably not your own!) one week beforehand. They each have up to 10 minutes – not a second more! – to present at the seminar. Encourage then to make their own a-v support materials. Tell them all you want is the main conclusion of the paper, and any critical comments about the paper they may have.
Seminar on your special interest -2 You can give a talk, with the papers by the students fitted in to make it interesting. Leave at least 20 minutes for discussion ADVANTAGE: Many students involved, and they have an opportunity to hear about your own research from you.
Seminars followed by practical exercise • These are especially useful for students to gain “hands on” experience of procedures such as • choosing the most appropriate experimental design to solve a problem; • doing a statistical test; or • solving a problem in epidemiology.
Seminars followed by practical exercise • These are especially useful for students to gain “hands on” experience of procedures such as • choosing the most appropriate experimental design to solve a problem; • doing a statistical test; or • solving a problem in epidemiology. (Students may stay on until they have produced a satisfactory solution)
Critical Seminars - 1 These are good if students need practice in spotting errors and developing a critical stance towards papers. Choose a recent paper with at least one thing wrong with it. Ask students to read it beforehand.
Critical Seminars - 2 On the day, allocate different tasks to each pair of students. Ask students in turn to present their conclusions
The tasks might be: • Is there a clear hypothesis? If there is, is it supported? • Are the subjects appropriate, and are there enough of them? Could they have biassed the results? • Are the measures appropriate – if not, what would have been better, and why? • Are the statistical tests appropriate? • Are results presented clearly? • Are they discussed adequately? • Does the Abtract do justice to the paper?
There are probably many more ways. (If so, tell me now!) Which ever way you carry them out, always obtain FEEDBACK from your students at the end of the course. What could they have done without? What still isn’t clear? What else would they have liked you to cover?