Purpose: Despite the potential benefits of the use of debate as a teaching tool in promoting active self-directed and reflective learning, there are few studies examining its use within postgraduate training including psychiatry residency training. We aim to study this pedagogical tool and hypothesize that within psychiatry residency training, preference for the use of debates during teaching of a common topic is associated with better learning processes and outcomes such as better motivation, engagement of the learners, promotion of critical thinking and understanding of the subject content.
Subjects and Methods: All second-year psychiatry residents from 2015 to 2019 who underwent a specific teaching session on “Neurobiology of Psychosis” (which was conducted using debate) were administered a study questionnaire following the session. Between-group comparisons, correlational and path analyses were conducted to examine the relationship between use of debate and specific learning processes and outcome.
Results: Overall, 66 out of 80 (82.5%) residents participated in the survey. The preferred use of debate was associated with better motivation, engagement, facilitation of critical thinking, understanding, equipping and better overall rating of the teaching session. Path analyses found that the relationship between preference for debate as a teaching tool and overall rating of the teaching was partially mediated by better engagement, felt relevance to the learning needs and better understanding.
Conclusion: The effectiveness of debate as perceived by psychiatry residents is consistent with self-determination and related learning theories and extant literature on its use as a pedagogical tool. This behoves the need to consider more of its use alone or in combination with other teaching methods in enhancing learning outcomes within psychiatry residency teaching and other training programmes.