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Selection of Ice-breaker activities

The following sections include someexemplary ice-breaker activities you could use with your participants. Such activities can help to familiarize participants with each other, develop a deeper understanding of each other, or build a trustful group environment. IF you know other activities you would like to recommend, please leave us a comment!

Setting: small groups, F2F or virtual
Aim: Emphasizes what participants have in common / share
Method: Break everyone off into separate groups, making sure to include participants from different departments/universities/countries in each of them. Task the groups with finding 10 (number can be varied) things that all of them share in common (besides the obvious, e.g., that they are human).
Suggested time: ca 15 min?
Source: https://www.tinypulse.com/blog/sk-work-icebreaker-games
Setting: Either in plenary or smaller groups, F2F (virtual might work as well using a whiteboard/Padlet on which anonymous contribution is possible)
Aim: Getting to know individuals
Method: Have each person write down something (can also be more than one activity) interesting they've done on a note card (e.g., skydiving). Put the note cards into a hat, give it a nice shake, and have each person draw a note card they will then read aloud. The reader must then try to guess "whodunit" and why they came to that conclusion.
Suggested time: Depends on group size, probably 5 mins for writing down and then 2-3 mins for each card.
Source: https://www.tinypulse.com/blog/sk-work-icebreaker-games
Setting: small groups, F2F or virtual
Aim: Share attitudes / beliefs / cultural understanding
Method: Break the session participants into small groups of four or five people. Ask them a very simple question—e.g., "What one word would you use to describe our university culture?" - and give each team five or 10 minutes to come up with their answers. Before finalizing their one word, teams will have rigorous discussions among themselves. Then it's time to ask each team to share their answers with the rest of the group—facilitating even more discussion.
Suggested time: depends on the number of groups, probably 5-10 mins for group work and 2-3 minutes for each group to present. Allow more time if discussion should follow.
Source: https://www.tinypulse.com/blog/sk-work-icebreaker-games
Setting: small groups, F2F only
Aim: Foster collaboration
Method: Break your team into groups of four. Give each group 20 sticks of spaghetti, three feet of tape, three feet of string, and one marshmallow. Ask them to build the tallest freestanding structure they can. Sit back and see what happens. The marshmallow challenge makes the perfect icebreaker and team-building hybrid.
Suggested time: ca 15 min
Source: https://www.tinypulse.com/blog/sk-work-icebreaker-games
Setting: small groups, F2F and virtual
Aim: Foster team communication and understanding
Method: Charades is all about acting. The goal is to describe an object, movie, book, or a person using just your acting skills. For brevity’s sake, let’s just call it “the word.” There are a few different ways you can play this game, for example:
  • Have one person pick a word.
  • That person will then pick one individual from the group and whisper the word in their ear (or write it down on a piece of paper or write it in a private chat message).
  • That individual will then have to act out/do something that would hint at the word, as others attempt to guess the correct answer.

Suggested time: depend on number of participants and rounds
Source: https://www.tinypulse.com/blog/sk-work-icebreaker-games
Previous Recommended Literature

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How to teach synchronously in a virtual setting

  • You need a reliable camera, microphone, and virtual platform and be familiar with its features, such as whiteboard, chat, polling, breakout rooms, etc.
  • At the beginning establish communication rules, e.g. whether participants should raise their (virtual) hand, use the chat, and/or just speak. Also, we recommend asking participants to turn on their camera
  • For small group work break out rooms work very well, just be clear about the tasks the groups should work on prior to dividing them into the groups.
  • For collaboration the use of integrated virtual whiteboards or other platforms such as Padlet are very useful. Just make sure prior to the session that you have everything setup and the links at hand, e.g. to post them in the chat.
  • Allow a bit more time for starting the session and the group works as there might be participants who are not familiar with the platform or technical problems might occur.

How to motivate unprepared participants

  • Make clear that the asynchronous assignments are a core part of the course and that its content will not be repeated. Even if it is difficult, stick to that when starting the synchronous teaching session.
  • If you expect unprepared participants, you can start the session with a student-centered group exercise mixing prepared and unprepared students to increase peer-pressure and make them realize that being unprepared does not feel good.  
  • Use the introductory or closing quizzes / tests so that participants can self- assess whether they have the required knowledge and you as a facilitator can see the level of knowledge and preparation of your participants.

Further recommended reading:

How to involve participants with different levels of experience

  • To account for such different levels, we recommend making use of the asynchronous preparatory phases which also include introductory quizzes in which participants can self-assess their prior knowledge and you as a facilitator can assess the differences within your group. Participants with less prior experience can also be guided to additional preparatory resources.
  • Encourage participants to work in pairs or small groups when preparing so that they can help and learn from each other. You could even facilitate this by dividing them into groups with different levels of experience.
  • Similarly, during the synchronous phases, we recommend forming groups with participants different levels of experience and emphasize the peer support aspects of such group activities.
  • We also recommend starting with rather smaller groups and allow more time than stated in the course outlines, if you expect a heterogenous level of experience. This way you can better manage this challenge.
  • Encourage your participants to ask questions, emphasizing that nobody knows everything and that it is important for learning to ask questions.  
  • Especially in the train-the-trainer course you might have to deal with over-confident participants, who especially in an interprofessional setting can dominate the group. This is a complex cultural challenge, but you could try to establish (and follow) communication rules at the beginning of a session.  

How to address potential overlaps or redundancies

  • Identify what is already included and what is missing in your curriculum related to clinical reasoning outcomes and compare it to the DID-ACT blueprint. Prioritize learning outcomes that are not yet covered but regarded as important.
  • Identify activities, resources, or teaching sessions with similar learning outcomes that might be in need for change anyway because of low evaluation results, teachers or students struggle with it. These could be suitable for adding or replacing parts with DID-ACT activities.
  • Ask teachers and students about overlaps and gaps they see in their teaching / learning of clinical reasoning and where they struggle. This could also be done by a reflection round after related teaching activities in the curriculum
  • Although ideally a longitudinal integration is aimed at, we recommend to starting small with a pilot implementation to gain experience and develop a show case.

How to teach in an interprofessional setting

  • Allow for enough time prior to the teaching for the organization and motivation / encouragement of stakeholders and participants
  • Allow for enough time and guidance during the course so that the participants from the different professions can get to know each other and their professions and discuss their different perspectives. This might mean that you need to calculate some extra time in addition to the suggested duration of the learning unit.
  • There may be a different understanding of clinical reasoning in the different health professions, so we recommend making participants aware of this. You could for example use and adapt activities from the learning units on the health profession roles to facilitate this.
  • Courses in an interprofessional setting should not come too early in the curriculum (not before professions have formed their own professional identity - however, this also depends on the aim of the course). 
  • Make sure you have enough participants from different professions. If possible, the facilitator could divide the participants in smaller groups with an equal distribution of professions. 
  • Similarly, you need an equal distribution of facilitators / facilitators from different professions.
  • Develop customized learning materials considering the different professions. If needed you can adapt the material and activities provided in the DID-ACT curriculum.

Further recommended reading:

van Diggele, C., Roberts, C., Burgess, A. et al. Interprofessional education: tips for design and implementation. BMC Med Educ 20, 455 (2020). (Link)

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