Saturday, August 23, 2008

Professional CE and Product Pushing

I took a workshop at the APA Convention on the WAIS-IV and WMS-IV. Respectively, these are two new versions of an intelligence/cognitive ability test and a memory test. Both have a long tradition and are very good instruments. The new versions have important changes. This was a pretty good format for this kind of information. Essentially it crowds a bunch of professionals together in a lecture-like format.

Because most of this information is basically factual, i.e., they are informing people about the changes/additions/deletions and basic issues concerning administration and scoring, it is not meant to be very interactive. It is a sales pitch for the equipment, and it is presented by individuals employed by the company that makes the tests. As a "consumer" of such stuff, it is important to keep that in mind and never simply take what is said as the final word. These folks have a big investment in selling the equipment. They did a fine job, but it is very sad that so much of what passes for professional education occurs in a format like this. Most issues in psychology aren't as antiseptic as describing the changes that have been implemented for new psychological tests. Many of the questions from the audience made me wonder if some people are taking after their over-eager students who raise trivial things as a way of standing out and looking important or were they always this way. This was as appropriate a situation for this type of format as it gets, and surely folks wanted to pack it in at the earliest opportunity. Pity the field to do this all the time. Mandatory CE gives this kind of format a life support, as people try to fill up their mandated hours. But it ain't much of an education.

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