Those that can…teach (EBP)

October 22, 2013

My favourite EBP course of the year (every year!)

I was reflecting recently on last months Teaching EBP course held jointly by CEBM and The Department of Continuing Education. The course, now in its, 20th year, has grown from strength to strength, continuously evolving to meet the needs of the EBP learner while embracing new teaching styles and technologies. For me, as a tutor, it is probably one of my favourite teaching roles throughout the academic year.

The course began with an introduction from the CEBM director Professor Carl Heneghan. Carl reminded us, amongst many other things, of the simple steps in EBP: Ask, Acquire, Appraise, Apply, Assess. However, as the focus of this week was on teaching he emphasised the 5 key principles of being a good EBP teacher namely: 1) Enthusiastic, energetic, excited, 2) Highly knowledgeable in their area, 3) Maintains that knowledge base, 4) Lifelong reflective learner, 5) Changes and influences practice. He went on to give examples of how each of these could be achieved including some inspirational examples from his own experience.

The TEBP students were given a session on how to teach searching skills to acquire their knowledge including using the Pubmed and Trip databases, but also ‘grey literature’ such as Google scholar. From my personal experience of teaching, maintaining a classrooms interest through a teaching session isn’t always easy. That said the students were given some excellent tips and tools from lead information specialist Nia Roberts on how to enhance their teaching in their own academic environments.

Key to the success of the TEBP module is the small group sessions that run throughout the week. Here the students have the ability to share experiences and ideas with fellow EBP tutors from around the world, in the company of 2 CEBM faculty tutors. It never ceases to amaze me how diverse and how far wide teachers of EBP converge on this course to share their own experiences and pick up new ones. My group alone had teachers from Australia, The Middle East, Malaysia, Canada, USA, Central Europe and the UK ( and we were only a class of 10!). It is as much a rich learning environment for the participants as it is for me.

Teaching critical appraisal of randomised controlled trials, systematic reviews and diagnostic studies was shared between myself and Dr Annette Pluddemann. One of the key messages I tried to get across was the importance of engaging your audience in your teaching and maintaining that throughout your session on RCTS and SRs. Annette gave a superb session on untangling teaching diagnostics to students, providing tips and tools to make teaching sensitivity, specificity, PPV, NPV etc simple, straightforward and fun.

Recognising that teaching and learning styles are evolving to meet different learner needs we asked Dr Adrian Stokes, Director of the Department of Continuing Education, to provide a session on learning styles. This fun, interactive session gave the participants an opportunity to reflect on their own learning styles and how teaching sessions can be adapted to take into account the style of their students.

Those that have been on our TEBP course before will know that it is a busy week with plenty of opportunities to demonstrate participants experience of teaching! This year we gave the participants the opportunity to deliver a short (10-15) min teaching session on any aspect of EBP, within their small groups, and recorded on video. The purpose was for the rest of the small group to provide constructive feedback in a safe learning environment but also to provide the participant with their video on DVD to reflect back, at a later stage, on their own teaching style, content, etc. We forget how important this reflective time is to personal development so were keen to find opportunities to support it. This worked really well and, from my own group experience, was an opportunity to really unpack some of the key features that constitute a good EBP teacher and share and learn in the safe environment that the small groups had created.

For many people teaching EBP, the bits that seem to cause a lot of anxiety revolves around teaching statistics. Fortunately Professor Rafael Perera, one the Universities most well recognised and respected medical statistics lecturer, was on hand to provide some tips on how to make this teaching session fun, interactive and engaging. By the end of the session you could visibly feel the anxiety in the room drop!

The final day of the week provided advice on including more EBP into the teaching curriculum from Professor Rafael Perera, who is the course Director of the MSc in Evidence-Based Health Care and has a research interest in Knowledge Translation. This was followed by an opportunity for some of the best teaching presentations from the small groups to be shared with the whole class. For the members of the teaching faculty, like myself, it was also an opportunity to see how high the standard of teaching was in the other groups. The best feature though was to hear the participants experiences on how their teaching had been enhanced simply from the previous few days of the course, a real result.

This was just a snippet of what went on in the week and I haven’t even mentioned the social events such as the college dinner, reception drinks, pre dinner speakers and opportunities to see some of the sights of the University city of Oxford!

It certainly is a busy week, but for me, as a teacher of EBP, it is an absolute privilege to come back year after year and be part of it. I meet so many fellow teachers of EBP and have the opportunity to reflect, share and learn new things. For anyone keen to enhance their own experience I look forward to seeing you here on one of the next courses.

2 comments on “Those that can…teach (EBP)

  1. I loved this course when I took it last year. We learned so much about reaching people with our materials and making complex topics accessible. We worked in small and large groups and they were fun. The team arranged for us to have a banquet in one of the beautiful old colleges with drinks in the garden too.

    We managed to do Oxford mini tours and I even got in a long jog. The college where the teaching was held was friendly, the food was good.

    I was in an excellent group, they named us the laughing group:-) We did some of our sessions outside too which was great. I was impressed with the high calibre of my team mates and how different we were, in our group geographically we spanned the world.

    The aftercare where we wrote up assignments (if you sign up for this) was excellent, we even had a SKYPE session and there was guidance so we could stay on the right track. EBP supplied us with USB sticks with references so we could take home what we were learning and still meet our luggage weight restrictions, such an improvement over clunky binders!.

    I know I and many of the others had multiple opportunities to guest teach, hold seminars etc. I presented mine at international conferences.

    If you want to learn how to teach so you can help others get to the place of learning and application this is the place for you!

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