Trainees: Teaching and Curriculum
Teaching at Lancaster is usually one day a week (except for longer blocks at the start of placements induction weeks and in the first few months of third year teaching as well as the odd day here and there). Psychologists and Academics working as part of the Lancaster programme or within the North West attend to provide teaching and training upon a variety of topics tailored to placements, such as - therapeutic modalities and skills; professional issues and development; psychological theory and practice relating to differing groups of individuals with differing needs; and research skills. Teaching involves a mixture of didactic teaching and practical tasks, group discussion and role plays (not as scary as you might expect!), focusing on a mixture of clinical and research topics. Teaching is very interactive and the practical tasks bring the topics to life, enhance learning and are good practice for placement. There are great opportunities to learn practical skills and practise tricky situations in clinical skills teaching and professional issues. Getting involved in teaching with lots of participation and active listening really allows you to get the best out of it. Engaging in the group discussions also allows you to share your opinions and experiences, giving you the opportunity to contribute to your peers' knowledge whilst working reflectively.
Teaching can feel like quite a long day with an early start if you don't live in Lancaster, although the programme does accommodate this by starting teaching at 10.00am. Teaching can be very draining emotionally, physically and mentally. Some of the topics covered can test your resilience to the max - you just have to know that it is perfectly ok to leave the room - everyone will understand and the staff team are fantastic at providing individual support.
Best things about teaching
- It's great to meet lots of local clinical psychologists working in a variety of areas and ways as you get a flavour of the huge diversity within clinical psychology. As the teaching programmes correspond with the speciality of placement (child, adult etc.), the teaching often provides a grounding of understanding that can then be drawn upon on placement. It's great to get chance to reflect on and use things from teaching on placement.
- Using clinical staff often involves a lot of real life examples being discussed which I find most helpful. It also means teaching is up to date as we are taught about what is currently being delivered across the region.
- You learn by doing and so all the interactive work helps you to apply what you've learned more easily on your clinical work. It also helps you to develop critical thinking.
- Teaching days give us the opportunity to be together as a year group and catch up on how things are going!
- One of the experiences trainees have valued the most is service user involvement. Wherever possible hearing the experiences of service users helps to bring to life the topics being considered.
- Most of the lecturers are pretty good at mixing up the teaching styles, using slides, group work, role plays, videos, service user involvement. Equally, some lecturers have been particularly good at allowing discussion around specific issues that are worrying the trainees at that moment, so the flexibility is often good.
- As trainees we are often asked to give our thoughts on what type of teaching would be helpful for us, at our stage of learning, on a particular topic. Within the teaching sessions we get every opportunity to ask questions, challenge what is being said and give our opinion. It is great feeling your confidence to engage in these sessions growing as the three years of the programme go by.
Trainee hopes for the future of teaching at Lancaster.
- It would be great to have even more service user involvement in teaching, which the programme is currently actively working towards.
- Response: We try very hard at Lancaster DClinPsy to develop our teaching in an inclusive manner. On 13th July, we held an event on 'Inclusive Teaching Practice'. This was hopefully an important next step in encouraging more involvement from all 'stakeholders'.
- Lots of different teachers are involved in teaching, which can sometimes lead to some repetition, but this is the cost of getting a wide range of teachers who know their subjects well. This is something that the programme is constantly seeking to improve.
- Response: As is stated, this is something we are constantly seeking to improve. A lot of planning and communication goes into developing the teaching. We can't always get it right for every individual trainee, but we are certainly do our best. Each teaching session is followed by a feedback process for the trainees and tutors. This enables views such as this to be put forward. After each block of teaching, there is also a review of the block as a whole. Hopefully this means year on year improvement.
- It would be helpful to have more teaching from people who have done more research as well as clinical work in specific areas as they are able to tie clinical practice within a more empirical framework.
- Response: This is quite a challenge, but hopefully we can meet it! Everyone on the programme is an individual, and that includes the people who facilitate teaching. We try to balance the theory-research-practice links, and play to the skills of all involved. We will certainly work to see what can be done about this question.