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An improved model for professional conferences and workshops.

Chapman-LJ; Murphy-DJ; Kiernan-NE; Goldenhar-L
Am J Ind Med 1996 Apr; 29(4):342-345
An improved method for increasing learning at professional conferences and workshops was described. The rationale for developing a better method was that professional conferences and workshops are usually passive experiences for the participants because the information is presented in a lecture format and little of it is retained or learned. The new method is based on a case study approach in which the presentation strategy and instructional content are identified and established by small group facilitators before the meeting. The presentations are to be kept short and designed to be given by the course instructor or in a self administered format by the participants themselves. The case studies utilize participant skills in applying factual knowledge and general principles to new problems and also provide full and immediate feedback on errors. This approach was illustrated by a case study of small groups in a breakout session during a conference on how to conduct an agricultural safety and health intervention sponsored by NIOSH. A hypothetical research proposal for controlling farm injuries and diseases was used to explain a number of research design and methodological issues. The participants were divided into groups and each group considered a set of research design and methods questions. At the end of the session, a set of sample solutions to the questions written by the instructor was handed out to the participants to provide an example and give immediate feedback about the questions and issues they had just discussed. The groups spent less time listening to information and more time working together and interacting to produce solutions than in the traditional lecture only format. The authors conclude that applying case study methods to break out sessions at professional conferences and workshops represents a promising method for making conferences more beneficial to the participants.
NIOSH-Author; Occupational-health; Training; Industrial-safety; Disease-prevention; Safety-education; Agriculture; Case-studies
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American Journal of Industrial Medicine