Training of trainers on teaching research synthesis methods and indigenizing knowledge

December 16, 2020

In light of travel constraints imposed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, planned face-to-face discussions by the UK academics, during their visit to MAHE in May 2020, as a part of SPARC funded project titled ‘Indigenizing evidence synthesis and systematic reviews for international development and global challenges’, were replaced with two online courses which ran in parallel for ten weeks from 6th October 2020 to 15th December 2020.

The international project team members (Professor Sandy Oliver,  Dr. Mukdarut Bangpan, Dr. Claire Stansfield, and Dr. Preethy D’Souza)  from EPPI-Centre, Social Research Institute, UCL Institute of Education (IOE), University College London, the UK; and Dr. Kelly Dickson, Associate Professor, and module leader of Systematic Review and Design Planning at Social Research Institute, IOE, UCL, conducted a course on Systematic Review Design and Planning Course (SRDP) in parallel to ToT program on teaching research synthesis methods and indigenizing knowledge for the Indian faculty & PhD Scholars. Under this training program, faculty members, early career researchers, and PhD scholars from Manipal College of Nursing and Public Health Evidence South Asia,  Prasanna School of Public Health, Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE)  were trained.

Objectives of the training program:

i. To provide methodological training to broaden and deepen the evidence synthesis skills of the trainers.

ii. To explore pedagogical approaches suitable for indigenizing systematic reviews for India

iii. To prepare indigenous teaching materials for systematic review design and planning courses at MAHE.

iv. To explore pedagogical approaches suitable for decolonizing systematic review course content for teaching international students at UCL and decolonizing teaching materials for the course on systematic review design and planning at UCL.

1) Systematic Review Design and Planning Course:

This is a Masters's level course at University College London delivered over a period of 10 weeks. This module teaches the principles underlying all systematic reviews and the ways that they vary from different types of the research question through to methods for synthesizing both quantitative and qualitative findings. Learners apply tools that aid review production and apply methods to formulate review questions, identify research, classify and appraise studies, and plan syntheses of findings. They apply their learning so as to critically appraise existing review reports. Participants were trained on tailored tutoring to emphasize issues and systematic reviews of particular interest to India.

2) Training-the-trainer:

In parallel to the module above, the same participants participated in a bespoke programme that broadens their skills and teaching, with weekly discussions that focused on:

a.  Critiquing content and teaching methods

b. Indigenizing content for India

c. Decolonizing UCL curriculum

d. Online teaching methods and opportunities for fully online or mixed mode delivery

e. How to adapt the content for a course to be delivered online at MAHE

Practical activities: providing feedback to other students taking the module; peer observation and feedback; preparing bite-size teaching materials about systematic reviews, and decolonized curriculum materials for UCL students of systematic reviewing, and for Indian students of systematic reviews and indigenous knowledge.

Method of training

Most of the course tasks were provided asynchronously with the prerecorded video teaching sessions, reading materials, and academic activities on UCL Moodle (an open-source learning management platform). Learning exercises were carried out as small group discussions. There were opportunities given for reflections and decisions that were discussed within the group as well as with the experts. Regular discussions and presentations of the coursework were held by the end of each week. Dedicated time for the discussion with trainers was given per week for clarification of doubts on the week’s content.

Weekly tutorial discussions focused on objectives ii, iii, iv, and v. Each week discussion meetings followed training sessions on Microsoft Teams Platform. A 10 weekly discussion meetings were held over the duration of the course, during which participants critiqued the content and teaching methods; participants also presented the activities done for each week and discussed pedagogical approaches for indigenizing and decolonizing teaching materials for their respective institutes as well as teaching materials to be modified for the course content that is to be adapted at UCL as well as at MAHE.

The ToT program went beyond just training, to include the how’s and why of teaching systematic reviews.