Otago Polytechnic

Seminar Programme

Monday 28 January


Registration, meet and greet

3.00pm to 5.00pm

Room: G Block, G106

What’s new in clinical reasoning?

An overview of current research as explained by PhD students. Their rational for doing the study and what excites them about the findings.

Developing a measure of evidence informed professional thinking
Dr Angela Benfield
Occupational Therapy

A situated approach to clinical reasoning
Sian Griffiths
Occupational Therapy



Tuesday 29 January

9.00am to 11.00am 

Room: G Block, G106

Modern test design

Most of the measures used by therapists currently were developed using classical test theory which requires the reliability and validity to be established with each population, and the tool is population sample dependent. Further, many tests use Likert scoring which is not interval data- limiting the ability to use these tools as outcome measures without extensive information on standard error of measure, minimal detectable difference, and minimal clinically significant change. Modern test theory or item response theory selects items by identifying unidimensional items and placing them into a probabilistic Guttmann scale, converting ordinal data to ratio level data. This allows the tools to become population free, which is critical when working with disparate populations. 

Speaker: Angela Benfield

1.00pm to 5.00pm

Room: G Block, G309

Casual models and cognitive maps

Historically, we have used frames of reference and theories as the reference point to interpret, link and recall information. Research has found that we use cognitive maps (mental models) when acquiring, coding, storing, recalling, and integrating information, however, we frequently do not elucidate the factors, especially with complex knowledge which is drawn from multiple sources. Cognitive mapping has been used in education to support the learner in identifying what they know, how things may be linked, and to solve problems in ill-structured domains. Cognitive mapping has been demonstrated to help novice learners organize their thinking to improve understanding, more efficient retrieval, and application of knowledge to solve problems.

Interestingly, research has shown that having psychologists map a clinical problem, one can identify what actions they will take with the client. Further, the actions (interventions) are not driven by evidence nor profession but by the specific causal model that the therapist has developed integrating his/her experience, beliefs, and knowledge. Therefore, helping students and clinicians develop their causal model (cognitive map of a specific clinical problem) can increase their ability to validate the model, identify if cognitive biases are influencing their thinking, and increase their ability to measure the construct that their behaviours is really changing. 


Wednesday 30 January

10.00am to 12.00pm

Room: G Block, G309

Working out our outcomes

For many of our clients, their clinical problems are "messy"- not always caused by one specific factor, like lack of insulin production in diabetes. Further, many clients will work with an inter-professional team to solve their problem, each of whom may define it and their causes in different ways. In order to assess our outcomes, we need to clarify our causal model (i.e. the theorized factors that the intervention is changing,) and select outcomes that measure specific constructs.


Friday 1 February

9.00am to 12.00pm

Room: G Block, G309 



Follow up to causal models with School of Occupational Therapy 

This session will be about how to integrate ideas about the use of casual models into the curriculum.

2.00pm to 3.00pm

Room: H Block, H224

Conversation with the School of Nursing

An open forum - all welcome to attend.



Please Note: While the topic might sound ‘academic’ Angela has a very engaging style and some wonderful insights into how we determine the outcomes in our practice (and how we teach students to be critical thinkers). You are welcome to attend as many forums as you like, however we ask that you register so we have an idea of numbers.