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A Faculty Development Workshop on “Developing Successful Workshops”


Section Editor(s): ANDERSON, M. BROWNELL


Association of American Medical Colleges


Inquiries: Yvonne Steinert, PhD, Department of Family Medicine, McGill University, 517 Pine Avenue West, Montreal, Quebec, H2W 1S4, Canada.

Objective: Although workshops are a common faculty development format, efforts to improve the design and delivery of this teaching format have not been described. In 1998, the Department of Family Medicine at McGill University sponsored a three-day workshop, “Developing Successful Workshops,” to assist teachers in planning, conducting and evaluating them.

Description: This workshop was designed to give participants a framework for developing successful workshops and to take them through each of the planning steps.1 On the first day, workshop modules consisted of defining participant needs, setting appropriate objectives, matching content to objectives, and matching teaching methods to content. On the second day, participants had an opportunity to apply the steps discussed on the first day to a workshop they were planning to conduct in their own setting, and to review strategies for evaluating workshops. They worked in pairs to design (or refine) their workshop content, and then presented their plan to the larger group for feedback and discussion. The last day of the workshop emphasized facilitation skills for both interactive large-group presentations and small-group discussions, and each participant was asked to present a part of his or her own workshop to the group. Each workshop module was introduced by a brief plenary session that summarized the key issues for discussion and was supplemented by a detailed handout designed to guide workshop planning. However, most of the activities took place in small groups.

Discussion: The immediate post-workshop evaluations indicated that all of the participants rated the workshop “very useful.” The participants valued the systematic approach to workshop planning, the checklist provided, the hands-on experience, and the opportunity to work on one of their own workshops, with feedback from their peers. All of the sessions were rated highly (i.e., “very useful”), with the exception of the module on evaluating workshops. Six months after the workshop was held, a follow-up questionnaire was sent to all of the participants. Sixteen of thej 18 participants responded to this questionnaire; and of these, 11 reported that they had conducted the workshops they had worked on, and three had given different workshops. The participants' workshops had varied from two hours to a full day and had been given to health care providers and patients at local and national meetings. Topics addressed included community-oriented primary care, teaching evidence-based medicine, research design, and stress management. The participants continued to rate the McGill workshop very helpful (with an overall rating of 4.6 on a five-point scale) and felt that the most useful sessions were matching teaching methods to content, conducting interactive large-group presentations, setting appropriate objectives, and matching content to objectives. In retrospect, they particularly valued the structured framework provided during the workshop, the emphasis placed on careful planning, and the opportunity to see a workshop in action. The results of this follow-up evaluation confirmed the usefulness of a faculty development workshop on developing workshops, and demonstrated that a structured approach to the design and delivery of workshops can help to improve teaching and learning.

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1. Steinert Y. Twelve tips for conducting effective workshops. Med Teach. 1992;14:127–31.

Section Description

Annual, Peer-reviewed Collection of Reports on Innovative Approaches to Medical Education

© 2000 Association of American Medical Colleges