About TrOn

Trainees Online was launched In 2014 and is the online learning resource to support trainee psychiatrists in preparing for MRCPsych Paper A examination. There are over 50 modules on Basic Sciences.

The content of the learning modules is screened by the College Examinations Panels, to ensure that material meets the expectations of the relevant Membership Examinations. It should be noted that modules include specific ‘Key Reading’ lists, and an examination-level understanding of a given topic should only be expected in association with this further reading.

Currently, anyone registered with the College as a trainee, member or affiliate has free access to the modules on Trainees Online. You are not required to create an account on the site; just use your College user details to log in.

Student Associates and Foundation Doctor Associates are entitled to access but will not receive this automatically. If you are a Student Associate or Foundation Doctor Associate and you would like to view the Trainees Online modules, please contact us and we will be happy to arrange access for you.

Please note that Trainees Online is free for trainees, members, affiliates, Student Associates and Foundation Doctor Associates for a limited period, subject to funding.

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The following modules have been mapped to the MRCPsych syllabus, 1-4 (inclusive), and cover the basic science topics. They are currently under development by Higher Trainees and the Editorial team.

If you are a consultant and you would be willing to provide feedback on these modules, please see our Expert Reviewers page and contact us noting your areas of expertise.

If you would like to see how we have divided our modules or want to target your learning for the exams, take a look at our syllabus pages.

Click the links below to view the modules in the following categories or scroll down to see the full list.

Psychology (10 modules)
Social psychology (7 modules)
Social science and socio-cultural psychiatry (9 modules)
Human development (8 modules)
Neuroanatomy (6 modules)
Neurophysiology (6 modules)
Neurochemistry (4 modules)
History of psychiatry (1 module)
Molecular genetics (4 modules)
Neuropathology (2 modules)
Clinical psychopharmacology (6 modules)

Please note that the descriptions provided beneath the module titles are not comprehensive; cross-refer to the syllabus for full details on what each module should include.


Psychology (10 modules)

1. Learning theory (published)
Classical, operant, observational and cognitive models. The concepts of extinction and reinforcement. Learning processes and aetiological formulation of clinical problems, including the concepts of generalisation, secondary reinforcement, incubation and stimulus preparedness. Escape and avoidance conditioning. Clinical applications in behavioural treatments: reciprocal inhibition, habituation, chaining, shaping, cueing. The impact of various reinforcement schedules. The psychology of punishment. Optimal conditions for observational learning.
(Syllabus: 1.1.1)

2. Basic principles of visual and auditory perception (published)
Figure ground differentiation, object constancy, set, and other aspects of perceptual organisation. Perception as an active process. The relevance of perceptual theory to illusions, hallucinations and other psychopathology. The development of visual perception as an illustration of constitutional/ environmental interaction.
(Syllabus: 1.1.2)

3. Attention and information processing (published)
The application of these to the study of schizophrenia and other conditions.
(Syllabus: 1.1.3)

4. Memory (published)
Influences upon and optimal conditions for encoding, storage and retrieval. Primary working memory storage capacity and the principle of chunking. Semantic episodic and skills memories and other aspects of long-term/secondary memory. The process of forgetting. Emotional factors and retrieval. Distortion, inference, schemata and elaboration in relation. The relevance of this to memory disorders and their assessment.
(Syllabus: 1.1.4)

5. Thought (published)
The possible relationship with language. Concepts, prototypes and cores. Deductive and inductive reasoning. Problem-solving strategies, algorithms and heuristics.
(Syllabus: 1.1.5)

6. Personality (published)
Derivation of nomothetic and idiographic theories. Trait and type approaches and elementary personal construct theory. Resume of principles underlying psychoanalytic, social learning, cognitive neuroscience and humanistic approaches. The interactionist approach. Construction and use of inventories, rating scales, grids and Q-sort.
(Syllabus: 1.1.6)

7. Motivation: needs and drives (published)
Extrinsic theories (based on primary and secondary drive reduction) and homeostasis. Hypothalamic systems and satiety. Intrinsic theories, curiosity and optimum levels of arousal. Limitations of approach and attempts to integrate. Cognitive consistency. Need for achievement (nAch). Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
(Syllabus: 1.1.7)

8. Emotion: components of emotional response (published)
Critical appraisal of James-Lange and Cannon-Bard theories. Cognitive appraisal, differentiation and the status of primary emotions. Emotions and performance.
(Syllabus: 1.1.8)

9. Stress: physiological and psychological aspects (published)
Situational factors: life events, daily hassles/uplifts, conflict and trauma. Vulnerability and invulnerability, type A behaviour theory. Coping mechanisms. Locus of control, learned helplessness and learned resourcefulness. Resilience.
(Syllabus: 1.1.9)

10. States and levels of awareness (published)
Levels of consciousness and evidence for unconscious processing. Arousal, attention and alertness. Sleep structure and dreaming. Parasomnias. Biorhythms and effects of sleep deprivation. Hypnosis and suggestibility. Meditation and trances.
(Syllabus: 1.1.10)


Social Psychology (7 modules)

1. Attitudes (published)
Components and measurement by Thurstone, Likert and semantic differential scales. Attitude change and persuasive communication. Cognitive consistency and dissonance. Attitude-behaviour relationships.
(Syllabus: 1.2.1)

2. Self-psychology (published)
Self-concept, self-esteem and self-image. Self-recognition and personal identity.
(Syllabus: 1.2.2)

3. Interpersonal issues (published)
Person perception, affiliation and friendship. Attribution theory, ‘naive psychology’ and the primary (fundamental) attribution error. Social behaviour in social interactions. ‘Theory of mind’ as it might apply to pervasive developmental and personality disorders. Elemental linguistics as applied to interpersonal communication.
(Syllabus: 1.2.3)

4. Social influence: leadership, power, conformity and obedience (published)
Types of social power. Influence operating in small and large groups or crowds: conformity, polarisation and ‘groupthink’, deindividuation. Communicative control in relationships.
(Syllabus: 1.2.4)

5. Intergroup behaviour (published)
Prejudice, stereotypes and intergroup hostility. Social identity and group membership.
(Syllabus: 1.2.5)

6. Aggression (published)
Explanations according to social learning theory, operant conditioning, ethnology, frustration and arousal concepts. The influence of television and other media. Family and social backgrounds of aggressive individuals.
(Syllabus: 1.2.6)

7. Altruism (published)
Social exchange theory and helping relationships. Interpersonal co-operation.
(Syllabus: 1.2.7)


Social science & socio-cultural psychiatry (9 modules)

1. Social class, socioeconomic status and their relevance to psychiatric disorder and healthcare delivery (forthcoming)
Social class, socio-economic status and their relevance to psychiatric disorder and health care delivery.
(Syllabus: 1.3.1)

2. The social roles of doctors (published)
Sick role and illness behaviour.
(Syllabus: 1.3.2)

3. Family life in relation to major mental illness (published)
Particularly the effects of high Expressed Emotion).
(Syllabus: 1.3.3)

4. Social factors and specific mental health issues (published)
Particularly depression, schizophrenia and addictions. Life events and their subjective, contextual evaluation.
(Syllabus: 1.3.4)

5. A social history of mental health institutions (published)
(Syllabus: 1.3.5)

6. Basic principles of criminology and penology (published)
(Syllabus: 1.3.6)

7. Stigma and prejudice (published)
(Syllabus: 1.3.7)

8. The mental health of ethnic minorities (published)
Acculturation and mental health.
(Syllabus: 1.3.8)

9. Ethics and philosophy in psychiatry (published)
(Syllabus: 1.3.9)


Human Development (8 modules)

1. Conceptualising and studying development (published)
Basic frameworks for conceptualising development: nature and nurture, stage theories, maturational tasks. Possible definitions of maturity. Examination of gene-environment interactions with specific reference to intelligence. Relative influence of early versus later adversities. The relevance of developmental framework for understanding the impact of specific adversities such as trauma. Historical models and theories: Freud and general psychoanalytic; social-learning, Piaget. Methodology for studying development: cross sectional, cohort and individual studies. Identification and evaluation of influences.
(Syllabus: 2.1, 2.2)

2. Family relationships (published)
Bowlby attachment theory and its relevance to emotional development, affect regulation and human relationships in childhood and later on. Conditions for secure attachment. Types and clinical relevance of insecure and disorganised attachment. Early separation and its consequences. Consequences of failure to develop selective attachments. Brief consideration of attachment, maternal ‘bonding’ parental sensitivity. Other aspects of family relationships and parenting practices. The influence of parental attitudes compared with parenting practices. Systemic theory including supportive systems in development and aspects of distorted family function: e.g. discord, overprotection, rejection, and enmeshment. The impact of bereavement, parental divorce and intra-familial abuse on subsequent development and mental health of the child. The relevance or otherwise of different family structure including cultural influences on family and stages of family.
(Syllabus: 2.3, 2.4)

3. Development of temperament (published)
Individual temperamental differences and their impact on parent-child relationships. Origins, typologies and stability of temperament and the evolution of character and personality. Childhood vulnerability and resilience with respect to mental health. Cognitive development with critical reference to Piaget’s model. The impact of attributions and beliefs, and cultural, genetic and other influences. The relevance of pre-operational and formal operational thought to communication with children and adults. Development of emotion literacy and emotional regulation in childhood and adolescence including development of fears in childhood and adolescence with reference to age. Possible aetiological and maintenance mechanisms.
(Syllabus: 2.5, 2.6, 2.10)

4. Development of language (published)
Basic outline of language development in childhood with special reference to environmental influences and communicative competence.
(Syllabus: 2.7)

5. Development of social competence and morals (published)
Development of social competence and relationships with peers: acceptance, group formation, co-operation, friendships, isolation and rejection. The components of popularity. moral development with critical reference to Kohlberg’s stage theory. Relationship to development of social perspective taking.
(Syllabus: 2.8, 2.9)

6. Adolescence and sexual development (published)
Adolescence as a developmental phase with special reference to pubertal changes, task mastery, conflict with parents and authority, affective stability and ‘turmoil’. Normal and abnormal adolescent development. Sexual development including the development of sexual entity and preferences.
(Syllabus: 2.11, 2.12)

7. Adaptations in adult life (published)
Adaptations in adult life, such as pairing, parenting, illness, bereavement and loss. The development of personal (ego-) identity in adolescence and adult life. Work, ethnic, gender and other identities. Pregnancy and childbirth and their stresses both physiological and psychological. Mid-life ‘crises’.
(Syllabus: 2.13-15)

8. Normal ageing (published)
The impact of normal ageing on physical, social, cognitive and emotional aspects if individual functioning. Social changes accompanying old age, importance of loss, personality changes with ageing. Social and economic factors in old age; attitude, status of the elderly, retirement, income, accommodation, socio-cultural differences. Genetic influences on development including gene environment interactions. Neuroimaging and its role in understanding development. Up to date findings in this field.
(Syllabus: 2.16-18)


Neuroanatomy (6 modules)

1. The functional anatomy of the brain (published)
The general anatomy of the brain and the functions of the lobes and some of the major gyri including the prefrontal cortex, cingulate gyrus and limbic system. Basic knowledge of the cranial nerves and spinal chord.
(Syllabus: 3.1.1)

2. The anatomy of the basal ganglia
(Syllabus: 3.1.2)

3. The internal anatomy of the temporal lobes (published)
I.e. hippocampal formation and amygdala.
(Syllabus: 3.1.3)

4. The major white matter pathways (published)
E.g. corpus callosum, fornix, Papez’s circuit and other circuits relevant to integrated behaviour (see neurophysiology section).
(Syllabus: 3.1.4)

5. The types of cell found within the nervous system (published)
(Syllabus: 3.1.5)

6. The major neurochemical pathways (published)
Including the nigrostriatal, mesolimbic and mesocortical dopamine pathways, the ascending noradrenergic pathway from the locus coeruleus, the basal forebrain cholinergic pathway, the brain stem cholinergic pathway, the corticofugal glutamate system and serotonin pathways.
(Syllabus: 3.1.6)


Neurophysiology (6 modules)

1. The physiology of neurons (published)
The basic concepts in the physiology of neurons, synapses and receptors, including synthesis, release and uptake of transmitters. A basic knowledge of action potential, resting potential, ion fluxes and channels.
(Syllabus: 3.2.1)

2. The neural and endocrine systems (published)
The physiology and anatomical pathways of the neural and endocrine systems involved in integrated behaviour including perception, pain, memory, motor function, arousal, drives (sexual behaviour, hunger and thirst), motivation and the emotions, including aggression, fear and stress. Knowledge of disturbances of these functions with relevance to organic and non-organic (functional) psychiatry.
(Syllabus: 3.2.2)

3. The development of cerebral functions (published)
The development and localisation of cerebral functions throughout the life span from the foetal stages onwards and their relevance to the effects of injury at different ages to the brain and to mental function. An understanding of neurodevelopmental models of psychiatric disorders and of cerebral plasticity.
(Syllabus: 3.2.3)

4. Neuroendocrine disorders (published)
An understanding of the neuroendocrine system, in particular the control of the secretion of hypothalamic and pituitary hormones (by releasing factors and by feedback control) and posterior pituitary function. The main hormonal changes in psychiatric disorders. A basic understanding of neuroendocrine rhythms and their disturbance in psychiatric disorders.
(Syllabus: 3.2.4)

5. The physiology of arousal and sleep (published)
A basic knowledge of the physiology of arousal and sleep and with particular reference to noradrenergic activity and the locus coeruleus.
(Syllabus: 3.2.5)

6. The EEG (published)
The normal EEG (including frequency bands) and evoked response techniques. The applications to investigation of cerebral pathology, seizure disorders, sleep and psychiatric disorders. The effects of drugs on the EEG.
(Syllabus: 3.2.6)


Neurochemistry (4 modules)

1. Neurotransmitters (published)
Transmitter synthesis, storage and release. Ion channels and calcium flux in relation to this.
(Syllabus: 3.3.1)

2. Neuroreceptors (published)
Receptor structure and function in relation to noradrenaline, serotonin, dopamine, GABA, acetylcholine, excitatory amino acids. Pre-synaptic and post-synaptic receptors.
(Syllabus: 3.3.2)

3. Pharmacology of neurotransmitters (forthcoming)
Basic pharmacology of noradrenaline, serotonin, dopamine, GABA, acetylcholine, excitatory amino acids.
(Syllabus: 3.3.3)

4. Neuropeptides (forthcoming)
Neuropeptides, particularly corticotrophin releasing hormone and cholecystokinin and the encephalins/endorphins.
(Syllabus: 3.3.4)


Molecular Genetics (4 modules)

1. Basic genetics (published)
Chromosomes, cell division, gene structure, transcription and translation, structure of the human genome, patterns of inheritance .Traditional techniques in genetics: family, twin and adoption studies.
(Syllabus: 3.4.1)

2. Techniques in genetics (forthcoming)
Restriction enzymes, molecular cloning and gene probes, Southern blotting, restriction fragment length polymorphisms, recombination. Gene analysis and gene tracking: Distinction between direct gene analysis and gene tracking. Genetic markers, linkage studies, lod scores. Genome wide association studies, genetic variants.
(: 3.4.2-4)

3. Chromosomal abnormalities and inherited conditions in psychiatry (published)
Conditions associated with chromosome abnormalities and principal inherited conditions encountered in psychiatric practice and the genetic contribution to specific psychiatric disorders.
(: 3.4.5-6)

4. Clinical genetics (published)
Prenatal identification. Genetic counselling. The organisation of clinical genetic services, DNA banks. Molecular and genetic heterogeneity. Phenotype/genotype correspondence. Endophenotypes. Gene X Environment interaction. Epigenetics.
(: 3.4.7-8)


Neuropathology (2 modules)

1. Neuropathology: Part 1 – dementia (published)
Neuropathology of Dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease, Pick’s Disease, Fronto-Temporal Dementias, and Lewy Body diseases including Parkinson’s Disease.
(Syllabus: 3.5.1)

2. Neuropathology: Part 2 – prions and HIV (published)
Neuropathology of Prion Diseases and HIV brain disease.
(Syllabus: 3.5.2-3)


Clinical Psychopharmacology (6 modules)

1. General principles of clinical psychopharmacology (published)
Brief historical overview of the development of psychotropic drugs. Their classification. Optimising patient compliance. Knowledge of the placebo effect and the importance of controlling for it. The principles of rational prescribing of psychoactive drugs.
(Syllabus: 4.1)

2. Pharmacokinetics: Part 1 – introduction (published)
General principles of absorption, distribution, metabolism and elimination. Drug interactions. Particular reference to a comparison of oral, intramuscular and intravenous routes of administration as they affect drug availability, elimination as it affects the life of the drug in the body and access to the brain through the ‘blood-brain barrier’. Applications of these to choice of administrative route and timing of doses. The relationship of ageing, culture, ethnicity to pharmacokinetics.
(Syllabus: 4.2.1)

3. Pharmacokinetics: Part 2 – therapeutic drug monitorin (published)
Relationships between plasma drug level and therapeutic response: the possibilities and limitations of this concept with specific examples such as lithium, antidepressants and anticonvulsants.
(Syllabus: 4.2.2)

4. Pharmacodynamics: Part 1 (published)
Synaptic receptor complexity, main receptor sub-types, phenomena of receptor up- and down- regulation. Pharmacogenetics.
(Syllabus: 4.3.1)

5. Pharmacodynamics: Part 2 (forthcoming)
The principal CNS pharmacology of the main groups of drugs used in psychiatry with particular attention to their postulated modes of action in achieving therapeutic affect: at both molecular/synaptic and systems levels. These groups would include ‘anti-psychotic’ agents, drugs used in the treatment of affective disorder (both mood altering and stabilising), anxiolytics, hypnotics and anti-epileptic agents. The relationship of culture, race and ethnicity to pharmacodynamics. Neurochemical effects of ECT.
(Syllabus: 4.3.2-3)

6. Adverse Drug Reactions (published)
Understanding of dose-related as distinct from ‘idiosyncratic’ ADRs.
The major categories of ADRs associated with the main groups of drugs used in psychiatry and those associated with appropriate corrective action.
The importance of assessing risks and benefits for every individual patient in relation to his medication. Risks and benefits of psychotropic drugs in acute, short- and long-term use including effects of withdrawal. Knowledge of official guidance on the use of particular drugs (e.g. the Royal College Guidelines on the use of Benzodiazepines, NICE guidance). The information database for adverse drug reactions and how to report them. Prescribing of controlled drugs.
(Syllabus: 4.4, all parts)


History of Psychiatry (1 module)

1. A brief introduction to the history of psychiatry (published)
This module has been designed specifically to complement the suite of basic science modules by providing historical contexts to the figures and theories discussed. It is not drawn from a specific area of the syllabus.

Trainees Online (TrOn) is an online learning resource that aims to support learners who are preparing for the MRCPsych. It is a College publication that is being created to supplement existing provisions such as contact with clinical and education supervisors, teaching by senior staff in mental health services, and attendance at the local MRCPsych course.

This reliable revision aid, produced by higher specialist trainees and junior consultants who have recent knowledge of the examinations themselves, is endorsed by the College and is available to Pre-Membership Psychiatry Trainees at no cost above their existing subscription. Modules covering the whole of the basic sciences syllabus are currently in production with new modules being published regularly. Each module includes three items of ‘Key Reading’; the module content plus this added reading is judged to be sufficient coverage for the purposes of the Membership exams.

TrOn offers unique alignment with the MRCPsych syllabus, having been developed in consultation with the College Examinations Department. The Dean and the Chief Examiner of the College have both been crucial to TrOn and influence it directly through the Advisory Board with additional input from trainees and other College stakeholders.

Trainees are provided with information about TrOn directly from the College, as well as through publicity in the BJPsych and at events such as the International Congress. We also hope that trainers, course leaders and tutors will encourage trainees to consider using this learning resource when preparing for the MRCPsych.

On the following pages there are suggestions for how you might use TrOn in both training and teaching, if you are:

Clinical and educational supervisors

There are several ways in which TrOn can be harnessed to support the supervision process:

  • modules can be used to guide trainees preparing for membership examinations and considered alongside the MRCPsych syllabus
  • trainees can document learning as they progress through modules, providing material for discussion
  • learning in clinical environments can be aligned with coverage of the syllabus, helping trainees to link theory with practice and scaffold knowledge as it develops.

We hope that trainers will encourage trainees to consider using this learning resource when preparing for the MRCPsych.

MRCPsych course leaders and tutors

Trainees Online (TrOn) is a useful resource for MRCPsych course organisers and tutors as well as trainees.

All modules are written by Higher Trainees with successful experience of the exams. Their content is tailored carefully to the needs of Pre-membership Trainees and aligned closely to the MRCPsych syllabus. TrOn modules are a great way of keeping up-to-date with the requirements and expectations of the syllabus, and of getting an insight into how trainees learn for the exams.

TrOn modules are accessible to anyone registered with the College. The login details for TrOn are the same as College user details.

If you are a course tutor but not a College member, or a course organiser who would like your tutors to have access to the resource, please get in touch. We will be very happy to arrange access.

Core psychiatry course facilitators

Trainees Online (TrOn) is a great resource for helping trainees prepare for exams independently but it also has the potential to transform the teaching and delivery of your core psychiatry course. This page offers some suggestions of how to combine TrOn with your teaching and how to make this 'blended learning' approach work well for you and your trainees.

What is blended learning?

Why is TrOn a useful way to provide a digital element to my teaching?

When should I ask trainees to do TrOn modules?

How could I use TrOn with my course design?

How can I make blended learning as effective as possible?

How can I access TrOn?

References

What is blended learning?

Blended learning is the combination of face-to-face teaching with material delivered digitally, for example through eLearning or an online forum. The idea is that this can offer students the best of both worlds, with the opportunity for learning at a pace and time suited to the individual using the online material and the opportunity to interact with others, ask questions and apply knowledge in the classroom environment. Indeed, one meta-analysis of 45 studies demonstrated that blended learning students achieved better results than those taught using traditional methods or eLearning alone (Means et al, 2013).

Why is TrOn a useful way to provide a digital element to my teaching?

TrOn modules are eLearning modules that are mapped to the MRCPsych syllabus so they are likely to be well aligned to the syllabus for your core psychiatry course. Modules are written by trainees for trainees and are reviewed by experts to ensure accuracy. They are freely available to all pre-membership psychiatric trainees (and other members) of the Royal College of Psychiatrists. Therefore core trainees can access them already for free. This means you avoid the costs of setting up a digital learning environment.

When should I ask trainees to do TrOn modules?

Trainees often use TrOn after receiving teaching as a way of revising the material but research suggests that there are significant benefits to 'flipping' the classroom and getting trainees to complete background learning before the face-to-face session (Levine et al, 2004; Mazur, 2009). TrOn modules provide a solid foundation on which to base further learning. Therefore completing a module before face-to-face teaching will ensure trainees have an understanding of the topic, freeing up face-to-face learning time for clarification, reinforcement and problem solving. This means trainees can attain higher-level learning outcomes, such as the application, analysis and appraisal of information, within the same amount of face-to-face time (Brame, 2013; Talbert, 2014).

How could I use TrOn with my course design?

There are a variety of methods for including TrOn in your core psychiatry course teaching. Your preference may depend on what fits best with the current course in your area, how you wish to introduce TrOn into your course and your intended learning outcomes.

Here are a few suggestions:

The flipped classroom

The flipped classroom involves asking students to do some learning (read a paper, do a TrOn module, watch a video etc.) prior to face-to-face teaching. This is one of the most straightforward and flexible ways to incorporate a digital element to a course that currently uses traditional teaching methods. How you use the face-to-face time is up to you but the great thing is that trainees will have already gained the core knowledge relevant to the topic. This means that rather than having to deliver a lecture, you can design activities to reinforce and apply knowledge and meet higher-level learning objectives. Depending on the exercises you choose you can also help trainees to develop their communication, team-working, negotiation, presentation or decision making skills.

For more information about flipped classrooms check out this article by Brame (2013) on the Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching website.

Team based learning (TBL)

TBL is a flipped classroom approach, again requiring trainees to do preparatory work in order to ensure they have the knowledge to apply in the classroom. TBL sessions may take place over a whole day or multiple shorter class meetings. The preparatory work is therefore typically greater than you might expect for a single teaching session, for example a number of TrOn modules or key reading chapters. The face-to-face time then follows a set sequence, starting with a formative quiz answered first by individuals and then by facilitator chosen teams. The quiz helps the trainees to reflect on their learning and the facilitator to identify and explain poorly understood concepts in a mini-lecture. After this, the main part of the session(s) involves students working in teams to apply their knowledge to an 'application exercise.' This is a complex problem which involves a significant decision, for example a clinical case, research problem or management issue. The different teams work simultaneously on the same problem(s) and each team feeds back and justifies their decision encouraging reflection on choices made. This approach aims to support not only learning but collaboration, reflection and communication skills (Parmelee et al, 2012).

For more information about TBL check out the TBL collaborative website.

Problem based learning (PBL)

PBL involves trainees working in a group on a particular case to identify and meet learning objectives. Trainees are given a clinical case presentation and work together to use their pre-existing knowledge to develop a hypothesis to explain the problem. They then identify what they still need to learn and how to go about this. Trainees then have time for private study using resources such as TrOn and its key readings to meet these learning objectives. The group then meets again to discuss their learning and update their hypotheses about their case based on this new information. In core training cases will likely be based on the core curriculum and MRCPsych syllabus. TrOn is mapped to this syllabus and is therefore likely to support trainees in meeting such learning objectives.

For more information about PBL check out this article by Wood (2003) in the BMJ.

Trainee led model

Peer teaching – where trainees teach each other – and near-peer teaching – where trainees are taught by others just above their training grade (Ten Cate & Durning, 2007) – are two teaching methods used in some core psychiatry courses. The flipped classroom model has been combined with peer teaching (McLaughlin et al, 2014) and is well matched to the flattened peer-teaching hierarchy as it relies on an individual facilitating face-to-face time as opposed to providing expertise. Following completion of background materials, face-to-face time may be used by the peer teacher to present and facilitate discussion of an element of the work of interest to them, for example its application to a clinical problem which they have experienced.

Signposting

As you can see many of these methods involve using TrOn resources before or during teaching sessions. We feel this is a very effective method as it frees up face-to-face time for more interactivity and knowledge application, aiding retention, allowing trainees to see the relevance to their clinical practice and work at the higher levels of Bloom’s taxonomy (Brame, 2013). Where you want to introduce such methods gradually you can still use TrOn to check the level of your own teaching and to encourage trainees to revise classroom material.

How can I make blended learning as effective as possible?

There are a number of things to consider when introducing a blended learning approach to your core psychiatry teaching. Educators with experience introducing blended learning into their own educational environments highlight the importance of considering the following to get the most out of blended learning:

  • Set learning objectives for each class – consider what you want your trainees to be able to do by the end of each session and choose your resources and activities to meet those objectives (Talbert, 2014)
  • Ensure trainees can access the resources – this often refers to the ability of the trainee to access and use the resources but it is also important to consider when they will have time to do so (McLaughlin et al, 2014)
  • Use classroom time to support active learning – it’s important to use activities that are student-centred, building upon prior learning and encouraging higher-level thinking. Reflective questioning, clinical problems, quizzes, student presentations and group tasks are all useful (DeLozier & Rhodes, 2016)
  • Get course facilitators on board – classroom flipping only works well if facilitators consider what the trainees have been asked to learn in advance and adapt their teaching accordingly. Asking trainees to complete a TrOn module and then delivering a lecture on the same content will be frustrating for trainees (Godsk et al, 2013)
  • Get trainees on board – one criticism of classroom flipping is that students may not do the preparatory work. This makes it very important that trainees know what is expected of them and what they need to do to prepare for the teaching session. Ensuring learning objectives are well aligned to trainee needs, professional practice and ambitions, encouraging opportunities for personal feedback from peers or the facilitator and brief formative tests are all useful motivators (Godsk et al, 2013; DeLozier & Rhodes, 2016).
How can I access TrOn?

If you are a member of the College you will already have access TrOn – just use your college username and password to log on. We know that many teachers on the core psychiatry course are not psychiatrists. If you teach but do not have access then get in contact with the TrOn team.

References

Brame CJ (2013) Flipping the Classroom. Center for Teaching and Learning. [website]

Ten Cate O, Durning S (2007) Peer teaching in medical education: twelve reasons to move from theory to practice. Medical teacher, 29: 591–599. [abstract]

DeLozier SJ, Rhodes MG (2016) Flipped Classrooms: a Review of Key Ideas and Recommendations for Practice. Educational Psychology Review, 1–11. [abstract]

Godsk M, Hougaard RF, Büchert Lindberg A (2013) Teaching Online Teaching Online: Seven Pedagogical Principles for Teacher Training. E-Learn: World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare, and Higher Education 95-104. [abstract]

Levine RE et al (2004) Transforming a Clinical Clerkship with Team Learning. Teaching and Learning in Medicine, 16: 270–275. [abstract]

Mazur E (2009) Farewell, Lecture? Science, 323: 50–51. [PDF]

McLaughlin JE et al (2014) The Flipped Classroom. Academic Medicine, 89: 236–243. [abstract]

Means B, Murphy R, Baki M (2013) The Effectiveness of Online and Blended Learning: A Meta-Analysis of the Empirical Literature. Teachers College Record, 115: 1–47. [PDF]

Parmelee D et al (2012) Team-based learning: A practical guide: AMEE Guide No. 65. Medical Teacher, 34: 275–287. [abstract]

Talbert R (2014) Creating learning objectives, flipped classroom style. The Chronicle of Higher Education. [website]

Wood DF (2003) What is problem based learning ? BMJ, 326: 328–330. [website]