GP training: Writing up your teaching or presentation as a learning log

In the second of two articles on how to write up your teaching or presentation in your eportfolio, Dr Prashini Naidoo looks at how your educational supervisor will assess the log entry.

The first article on teaching as a trainee covered the five key theoretical concepts in adult education that trainees are required to provide evidence of in their eportfolio. This article looks at the educational supervisor’s (ES) feedback.

The ES feedback should inform you of what you have done well and should also provide suggestions that help you to improve your teaching and presentation skills iteratively. 

Below is an example learning log. While reading this consider what feedback you would give to this trainee. What has he done well? What suggestions would you make to help him improve?

Example learning log

Subject title: Presentation at the psychiatry clinical meeting on "Psychiatry and Literature"

What was the subject and aims of the lecture/seminar? Being a keen reader, I am interested in how literature portrays doctors, patients and their interactions and whether psychiatrists, in particular, can improve their professional practice by reading a relevant novel or poem, rather than by reading a text book. My talk was influenced by reading 'The Trick is to Keep Breathing' by Janice Galloway.

By the end of my thirty minute presentation, I wanted the psychiatry clinical team to understand how literature can help clinicians to connect with the humanity of our patients – the shared human experience as well as the particularities of the individual.

I have uploaded my Powerpoint presentation – see attached.

What did you learn? I learned that when presenting to the team, it was useful to have a plan with timings: two minutes for introduction; three activities each taking eight minutes and four minutes for questions and wrap-up.

Having three different learning activities (video clip; questions set around a text; a presentation), engaged the learners. I learned that if the activity is fun and lively, even the driest psychiatrist may be motivated to play with different ideas!

From preparing my talk, I also learnt that:

  • Words are important. I need to listen to the story and see the patient. I should try to see things as they are, not as I am.
  • Writing can help us cope with traumatic experiences.
  • Reading can help us to empathesize with the loss of hope and despair in others.
  • Creativity engages hope and imagination which could be protective against professional 'hardening' or burnout.

What will you do differently in future? To answer this question, I had to reflect on my feedback. I had seven responses from an audience of 13 and I also briefly spoke with my clinical supervisor. The psychiatry department has a standard feedback sheet for all presentations. People who completed the feedback left it in my in-tray. The feedback was mixed.

In response to the question ‘Please rate how well this session’s learning objectives were met’ [from 1=not met to 5=extremely well met], my mean score was 3.90 and the range 3-5.

In response to the question ‘What value did you receive from this session?’ my mean score was 3.58 and the range 2-5.

The session received the following comments in response to ‘What is the best idea you heard in this session that you plan to use?

  • It forced me to look at something I would otherwise have been instantly turned off by – so helpful in that regard.
  • It was interesting but I don’t feel it has added much to the way I practise.
  • Wow. I reflected on what makes us people and what makes us professionals.

The following comments were received in response to ‘How could this session be improved?’:

  • Interesting session but perhaps a little abstract?
  • More time to fully understand how I would put this into practice.
  • Show some examples of how studying literature in psychiatry improves patient or practitioner outcomes.

My clinical supervisor commented that I chose a 'Marmite' topic: hated by some; loved by others. I could have chosen a 'safe topic'. Do I regret my choice of topic? I don't think so. This topic was of interest to me so I was motivated to put in the hard work of reading, appraising, and reflecting on some difficult and abstract concepts.

I think it's an important topic because a patient, like a writer, can tell their story in different ways. Listening to what patients say and how they say it is important, as is the skill of our response to the humanity of the experience – empathy, kindness, consideration.

What further learning needs did you identify? How could I make an abstract topic more 'real'? I could have provided examples of how studying literature in psychiatry improves patient or practitioner outcomes.

How and when will you address these? If I choose to present on an abstract topic again, I'll run the presentation past the most 'real/ evidence based' person I know. I'll use their feedback to amend my final presentation. 

Feedback on the learning log

As the trainer writing his educational supervisor review, I would cite this interesting learning log as evidence for the domain ‘Maintaining performance, learning and teaching’.

The trainee recognised that his chosen topic, which became his learning objective, was of interest to him. His aim was to sell the idea to his audience, some of whom did not share his objectives. Had he aligned his learning objectives more closely with those of his audience, his presentation may have been more successful.

By reflecting on his feedback and his clinical supervisor’s comments about his 'Marmite' choice, he developed this insight. He didn't respond by regretting his choice or spurning his audience, rather he shifted his ideas and professionally concluded that he could get better feedback if he aligned his learning agenda more closely with the audience agenda.

This learning log provided good evidence on the trainee's contribution to the education of students and colleagues. The trainee also described how he developed insight into better identifying the audience's learning objectives; he utilised appropriate teaching methods; he sought and reflected on learner feedback.

  • Dr Naidoo is a GP trainer in Oxford. She has written three books on how to pass the CSA. The latest book CSA Practice Cases for the MRCGP Paperback was published in January 2016.

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