American Journal of Educational Research
ISSN (Print): 2327-6126 ISSN (Online): 2327-6150 Website: Editor-in-chief: Ratko Pavlović
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American Journal of Educational Research. 2017, 5(6), 606-611
DOI: 10.12691/education-5-6-2
Open AccessArticle

Evaluation of a Visual Metaphor of Suicide Risk Factors: Results from a Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial in Psychology Students

M Alyami1, , H Alyami2, F Sundram3 and B A Haarhoff4

1School of Psychology, Massey University, Auckland, New Zealand

2Consult Liaison Psychiatry, Starship Hospital, Auckland District Health Board, New Zealand and South Auckland Clinical Campus, The University of Auckland, New Zealand

3Department of Psychological Medicine, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, The University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand

4Senior lecturer and Registered Clinical Psychologist, Massey University, Auckland, New Zealand

Pub. Date: June 14, 2017

Cite this paper:
M Alyami, H Alyami, F Sundram and B A Haarhoff. Evaluation of a Visual Metaphor of Suicide Risk Factors: Results from a Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial in Psychology Students. American Journal of Educational Research. 2017; 5(6):606-611. doi: 10.12691/education-5-6-2


Background: Although comprehensive knowledge of suicide risk assessment is fundamental, training programs for such an essential skill often include passive and didactic methods that may not facilitate recall. Objectives: To examine the efficacy of a recently published novel visual metaphor (VM) for teaching suicide risk factors as an adjunct to traditional teaching methods in a group of novice learners. Methods: A pilot non-blinded randomized controlled trial (RCT) was conducted. 22 first-year undergraduate psychology students were randomly assigned to either a control group, where they received traditional teaching (TT) or an intervention group, where they received traditional teaching and the visual metaphor (TT+VM). Participants then completed post-learning assessment including immediate free recall of suicide risk factors and knowledge application based on a clinical vignette. Cognitive load and participants’ satisfaction were also assessed. Descriptive statistics and the Mann-Whitney U test were used to analyse the data. Results: The TT+VM group demonstrated significantly better immediate free recall of suicide risk factors (mean= 14.56, SD= 3.2, p=.026), and superior application in the clinical vignette (mean= 14.33, SD= 1.00, p= .036). Furthermore, the TT+VM group also reported significantly less cognitive loading while learning suicide risk factors (mean= 3.44, SD= .88, p=.001) and significantly higher satisfaction levels (mean= 26.44, SD= 3.6, p=.001). The differences between the two groups on these domains ranged between medium and large effect sizes. Conclusions: Preliminary findings show that the use of TT+VM enhanced the learning of suicide risk factors. The VM could be a useful learning tool for novice learners but future large-scale studies are warranted to replicate this positive preliminary effect.

visual metaphor suicide risk factors learning cognitive load theory

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