“It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.”
Teaching people about pain can be difficult, complex, frustrating, slow, liberating, fun, exhausting…… The list of adjectives can be as long as the number of ‘students’ that one might encounter.
Finding better ways to teach people about pain, as well as teach people how teach others about pain, is a key focus of what we do at noi.
There is compelling evidence that people learn better from words and pictures than from words alone – this is known as the multimedia learning hypothesis (Mayer 2014).
Multimedia teaching is defined as presenting words and pictures that are intended to promote learning. Multimedia does not necessarily mean technology focussed learning – it can be as simple as using a picture that specifically relates to the material being taught.
Here are seven, simple, multimedia teaching gems that are very applicable to explaining pain from The Cambridge Handbook to Multimedia Learning (2014):
- People learn better from words and pictures than from words alone.
- People learn better when words and pictures are physically and temporally integrated – having relevant pictures that people can see at the same time as the hear or read words is better than having pictures that need to be looked up later.
- People learn better from illustrative graphics and narration than from graphics and printed text.
- People learn better when they are encouraged to generate self-explanations during learning – asking a person while they are learning “can you explain to me what you understand this to mean” helps the person prompted to explain, better grasp the information.
- People do not necessarily learn better from animation than from static diagrams.
- People learn better when they create drawings as they read explanitative text.
- People learn better when the words and multimedia presentation is delivered in a conversational style rather than a formal style.
I’ve seen education derided in rehabilitation circles as “just handing out leaflets”. Certainly giving someone some printed information and sending them on their way is not really education, and it is certainly not multimedia education. But sitting down with a person experiencing pain, having a conversation about the brain and pain, using simple, relevant diagrams to illustrate the points and asking the patient to draw and explain their own diagrams, might just be one of the more powerful approaches to encourage healthy movement and activity, change pain cognitions, reduce pain and help a patient along the road to a better life.
What multimedia approaches are you already using, or will you be adding, when you explain pain?
Let us know in the comments below.