Skillsetter is an electronic platform for learning therapy skills. It has applications across various counseling class types, including basic skills classes (described here), supervision classes, and treatment-specific classes.
The advantages of using Skillsetter in a basic therapist skills class include the following:
- Students are able to practice the skills on their own (outside of class, as homework), without the anxiety of being “watched”.
- When students assess that they have reached proficiency they can submit their video to a peer or to the instructor for feedback.
- Instructors are able to directly assess the skill level of their students at the beginning of the term and throughout the term.
- Skillsetter is entirely remote, so students are able to practice, assess, and improve outside of the classroom, and instructors are able to provide feedback asynchronously.
Integrating Skillsetter in a Skills Class
Skillsetter facilitates learning in the context of a traditional therapy skills class. Instructors can use the same textbook, lectures, and demonstrations they usually use. Skillsetter is designed to catalyze learning and skill acquisition.
The steps involved in using Skillsetter in a skills class are presented below. Of course, these are suggestions and instructors are free to be innovative in how they use Skillsetter in their skills classes.
Step 1—Design the Skills Class
The first step is to design the skills class, as the instructor would ordinarily do. Most instructors use a textbook that contains a particular set of skills, although in our experience the skills in various texts are quite similar. Each class may focus on a different skill.
Step 2—Adapt Skillsetter to the Existing Course
Skillsetter is organized around modules, where the modules contain the components of deliberate practice of a particular skills, including:
- Client stimulus videos
- A rubric for the evaluation of student responses (i.e., the aspects of quality display of the skill)
- Model responses
- Notes from the instructor
- Much more
Skillsetter has many built in models, which can be modified easily. Alternatively, the instructor can design their own modules. As well, the instructor can break the class into small groups so that the students in each group can give each other feedback remotely.
Step 3—Assign Modules
The modules for each skill are assigned to align with classroom instruction for the skill. The instructor can choose the stimulus videos for student practice, the number of videos to be used, and to whom the modules should be submitted for feedback (students can submit their videos to their small group peers or to the instructor).
Remember, students are not allowed to submit their responses for feedback until the student has evaluated their response and it meets the basic criteria for competence (i.e., the student repeats their response for each client stimulus, working to improve, until the desired level of competence is achieved, based on guided, self-evaluation).
Step 4—Provide Feedback
The next step in using Skillsetter in a skills class involves providing the student feedback. The instructor (or peer) watches the stimulus video and the student response, and then the instructor (or teaching assistant) evaluates the response, using the module rubric. The instructor also provides written feedback for each component of the module. Feedback is a critical component of deliberate practice, but is the most time consuming aspect of Skillsetter for instructors, so instructors should be strategic about when feedback is most useful for students.
Step 5—Assess Progress
The instructor can also use Skillsetter to monitor progress over the course of the term. This is done by evaluating student responses at the beginning and end of the term and at various times during the term.
Skillsetter is designed to integrate with existing skills classes. Flexibility is built in so it will supplement most any skills-based course. Remember, the instructor can consult with Skillsetter staff to answer questions, get pointers, or request advice. Skillsetter can make modifications to the platform to fit the instructor’s needs.