The Teaching Course 2013

Last week we held the 2nd annual International Teaching Course in Baltimore, Maryland (greatest city on the planet). Our guest speakers included Mike Cadogan, Mike Stone, and Michelle Lin. The course was epic! 30 physicians from all over the world showed up to learn how to teach and make a difference in their countries

We are planning two courses in 2014: April 28-May2 and October 20-24

How Twitter Has Helped Me

Is Twitter a faculty development tool? I would argue that it is perhaps the BEST tool we have. Of course I am not arguing to replace your mentor at your institution….I’m not giving up my mentor Amal Mattu no matter how much I get into Twitter!

Many years ago I decided to give Twitter a try. A friend of mine mentioned to me that there was a new social networking tool available, so I reluctantly decided to give it a go. When I first started out it was nothing more than me commenting on what I was doing at the time. I remember a friend and mentor of mine, Dave Manthey, asking me why I waste my time on Twitter. I remember telling him that there may be something to this, but I need to figure out what it is. Over time, I began to notice some tangible results. Results I could attribute only to Twitter. It’s simply amazing what getting involved can do for you and your career. The really cool part is you get to contribute to others’ careers and help them as well.

Here is just a smattering of what Twitter can do for you:

1. Meet great people with the same interest.

This is the most valuable aspect for me. I have met some truly spectacular folks on Twitter: Chris Nickson, Mike Cadogan, just to name a few. I’ve met folks from Australia, Europe, South Africa, and many other countries. The really cool thing is that you end up seeing the same people at international conferences, and you already have a relationship built on Twitter.



2. Get invited to speak.

Next year, in March, I will be an invited faculty member for the SMACC Gold conference in Australia. I honestly believe that my involvement with Twitter and the social media world led to this invitation.


I could give many examples of this. Twitter has definitely helped me develop more as a speaker and get more invites.

3. Get invited to publish. 

I am not the biggest fan of writing, but I have been invited to join other folks on papers and to write chapters and other pieces. All because of Twitter.

4. Mentor from a distance.

Whether you realize it or not, Twitter allows you to develop mentoring relationships in real time. And you end up becoming friends with these folks. Awesome.

5. Brand yourself and your ideas.

This is the cool part. You get to grow your academic profile. And it’s much more fun if you develop your own Twitter logo. Here is the logo I use for the iTeachEM blog and podcast. Logo creation and branding gets your name out there even more….and good things will happen.


6. Get questions answered from the FOAM collective.

Have something you need to know but can’t find the answer? Try the FOAM collective on Twitter. I have had more questions answered this way than anything else.


7. Stay up to date with the literature.

I was initially doubtful that I could use Twitter to stay up to date. But, people really do post a lot of cutting edge stuff. Stuff that is way ahead of the text books.

8. Join the world of FOAM

Getting involved with the FOAM world has really opened my eyes and has led to a lot of great things for me in my career.

9. Stay up to date with the latest and greatest book releases.

I have heard about many great books just by being connected to the Twitter and FOAM world…


Here is the key thing about Twitter: You get out what you put in. Don’t be quiet. get out there and start now! The more you contribute the more helpful the Twitter and FOAM worlds become. But, don’t expect to sit back and let the cyber collective do all the work for you. You have to GET into it for it to help you...

You won’t regret it!

What has Twitter done for your career? Please post your ideas….


Make Your Audience the Hero

One of the biggest mistakes lecturers make is failing to connect with their audience.  Last week’s post on the “Dr. Fox Effect” generated a bit of controversy about whether or not presentation style can affect the audience’s ability to learn from the teacher.  While this certainly can be debated, one thing we do know is that emotion has a strong influence on learning and memory.1

Building an emotional connection is one of the most effective methods to keep an audience’s attention and persuade them that what you are teaching is important. One way to build this connection is by viewing your audience as a hero and incorporating the power of story into your lectures.

The classic hero’s journey involves:

  1. The Current State – represented by the current state of the world, and what the audience already knows and believes.
  2. The Journey – Represented by the internal conflict an audience will experience as they are taught something new, which may make them feel uncomfortable.
  3. The Resolution – The final destination that is reached as the audience accepts the teacher’s perspective and adopts it as their own.

In medical lectures, persuading an audience of physicians to change their behavior can prove to be challenging.  The teacher can expect an audience to be skeptical at first and initially unwilling to change – because the lesson will require the audience to let go of personal beliefs of what has been taught to be true for years.  But the facts stated within a lecture can be brought to life by regularly incorporating story and anecdote that support the teacher’s position.

Miyagi & Daniel

A common mistake made by educators is that they view themselves as the hero, and that their teaching will save an audience from everything they don’t know. Whether you are in the classroom or in the lecture hall, the role of the teacher is NOT to be the hero. The teacher must embrace the role of a mentor. You are not Daniel Larusso, you are Mr. Miyagi.

A mentor is selfless and has a primary goal of making sure the student succeeds. A good lecturer should embrace a stance of humility and place the interests of the learner first.  Their goal should be to act as a facilitator and guide the audience along their personal journey of change. Think of this as audience-centered teaching.  Take your audience on the Hero’s Journey – and they will not only remember your presentation, but will be able to take the tools you have provided them back to the bedside, and ultimately save a life.

Mr. Miyagi says:  “No such thing as bad student, only bad teacher”

Reference & Additional Reading

  • LaBar KS, Cabeza R. Cognitive neuroscience of emotional memory. Nat Rev Neurosci. 2006 Jan; 7(1):54-64.
  • Duarte, Nancy. Resonate: Present Visual Stories That Transform Audiences. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2010.

Check out the Resonate Multi-Touch iBook, definitely a great read with lots of included multimedia.

Contact me on Twitter @JohnGreenwoodMD

The “Dr. Fox Effect”

Are You Getting the Most Out of Your Students? Revisiting the “Dr. Fox Effect”

Take a moment and think back to the last lecture you attended.  What do you remember about the person giving the talk?  Was the teacher fun and engaging?  Or was it an incredibly boring experience where you found yourself looking at your watch every couple of minutes, hoping that it would all be over soon?

Now let’s take it a step further.  How much did you actually learn from that lecture?

Both your perception of what you learned, as well as what you actually learned may have been influenced by an educational phenomenon called the “Dr. Fox Effect”.  This effect was first described in the early 1970’s in an attempt to determine the correlation between teacher expressiveness, lecture content, student evaluation, and achievement.

The initial experiment involved a professional actor by the name of Michael Fox (not to be confused with Michael J. Fox who added the “J” to differentiate himself from the older actor) who presented a series of lectures as “Dr. Myron L. Fox” to an audience of physicians, psychologists, and graduate students.  Dr. Fox was instructed to vary his presentation style between highly entertaining (“seductive”) and extraordinarily dull.  The one constant throughout each lecture was that the content was essentially drivel, filled with double talk, neologisms, non-sequiturs, and contradictory statements.  Afterwards, the course evaluations were reviewed and the results were clear – the audience felt that they had learned more from the engaging lecture compared to the dull, traditional talk.1

A video of one of the original “seductive” lectures given by Dr. Fox can be watched below.

A follow-up study found that when controlling for content, students performed better on achievement tests after attending the lecture where the teacher incorporated enthusiasm, expressiveness, friendliness, and humor into their teaching style.2

This phenomenon was recently revisited and found that once again students’ perception of learning was significantly affected by the instructor’s presentation style – NOT the content of the lecture.3 In the same study, student evaluation of teaching effectiveness was significantly better for those who incorporated strong non-verbal cues (stood upright, maintained good eye contact, and spoke fluidly without notes) into their lecture.

So what does this all mean?

  1. Spend time perfecting your presentation.  If you want to significantly improve your student evaluations to reflect the quality of what you teach, focus on developing strong, non-verbal communication skills in addition to the technical content of your lectures.

  2. The more engaging you are, the better your students will perform!  Improving your presentation skills may improve your students’ performance as well as increase the amount of information that they retain.

  3. Being a great educator isn’t easy.  Always keep your primary focus on delivering high-quality content, but recognize that the way you present will affect the way it is received.


1. Naftulin DH, Ware JE Jr, Donnelly FA. The Doctor Fox Lecture: a paradigm of educational seduction. J Med Educ. 1973 Jul;48(7):630-5. PubMed PMID: 4708420.

2. Ware JE Jr, Williams RG. The Dr. Fox effect: a study of lecturer effectiveness and ratings of instruction. J Med Educ. 1975 Feb;50(2):149-56. PubMed PMID: 1120118.

3. Carpenter SK, Wilford MM, Kornell N, Mullaney KM. Appearances can be deceiving: instructor fluency increases perceptions of learning without increasing actual learning. Psychon Bull Rev. 2013 May 4. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 23645413.

Contact me on Twitter @JohnGreenwoodMD


Editor’s note:
Many thanks to John Greenwood for submitting this post. We want to welcome John to the iTeachEM team.

JCG Face Pic

Dr. John Greenwood

The 2013 Course is Coming!

Yes, it’s already time to start planning the 2013 International Emergency Medicine Teaching Course.

This year’s course was incredibly popular, and it has convinced me that people are truly starving for a course like this. The faculty at the University of Maryland delivered an excellent educational experience for the course fellows, and it is indeed an honor to count myself one of them. My favorite part of the course was meeting the physicians from all over the world. I learned as much from them as they learned during the course. What a great group of people! An added bonus was getting to meet and collaborate with Chris Nickson (@precordialthump), who helps me keep this educational blog alive. His energy and enthusiasm for teaching and learning is infectious and truly inspiring.

One of the most important things I learned during the course was how much coffee a room full of international emergency physicians can drink in a day. Very impressive indeed.

Plans for next year include:

  • More emphasis on the “flip the course” model – where class time is spent discussing and collaborating
  • Continued integration of social media into the course, i.e. Twitter (the 2012 course, using the #IEMTC12 hashtag, had over 3 million impressions on Twitter!)
  • Phenomenal guest speakers…. Sorry, it’s a surprise for now!
  • Same great speakers as the 2012 course
  • New content-teaching in resource-limited areas, bedside teaching, use of social media to teach
  • More interaction and less “lecturing”
  • Yes, Amal Mattu (@amalmattu) will be back in all his glory…
  • Full-day cadaver (procedure) and simulation labs – participants get to evaluate teaching sessions and come up with creative ideas about how to teach
  • Tentative plans for a HUGE name keynote speaker… another surprise!
  • A new and improved website
  • Delivery of some course materials to registrants PRIOR to the course beginning (“flip the course”)
  • Establishment of a mentoring relationship with the course teaching faculty
  • More robust social activities for course attendees
  • Shorter days – giving attendees a chance to take in the area, shop, and enjoy the sights and sounds of Baltimore, Maryland
  • All attendees will get a copy of what is now the course syllabus, a copy of the 2nd edition of Practical Teaching in Emergency Medicine
  • And much much more…

This is one of my new friends from Turkey, Haldun (@drjosepa). Super nice guy. Just look at the happy expression on his face. You could be that happy too if you join us in Maryland for what promises to become the premiere event in international teaching and medical education!

Course content, speakers list, and other plans for the 2013 course are already underway… The last thing we want is for the course to become stagnant, so we will strive to stay on our toes, utilize the latest and greatest educational technologies to deliver the course, and stay humble as we aim to help physicians from all over the world learn cutting-edge techniques for educating others. Although taught in the United States, the course is designed with the international physician in mind. We know that teaching and learning are handled differently throughout the world, so we want to deliver a stellar course that will help you as an educator, no matter what country you are from. This course will help you, your department, and ultimately your country!

Please contact me with any and all questions about the course: