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Psychopathology Taught Online

Project ID: 3008
Project outline
Project homepage:

Project Leader

Prof. Dr. Damian Läge
Psychologisches Institut Angewandte Kognitionspsychologie
Binzmühlestrasse 14 / 28
8050 Zürich

Project Coordinator

Dr.des.phil. Roland Streule
Binzmühlestrasse 14 / 28
8050 Zürich

Project Partners

Prof. Dr. Rolf Dieter Stieglitz
Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Tschacher
Prof. Dr. Hansjörg Znoj
Prof. Dr. Meinrad Perrez
Prof. Dr. Andreas Maercker
Prof Dr. Urs Baumann
Prof. Dr. Franz Caspar

e-learning Center, UZH



The project "Psychopathology Taught Online" (PTO) pursues two main goals:

  • The development of a high-quality and modular virtual learning environment in the field of mental disorders, fully integrated into the existing curricula of psychopathology.
  • The technical implementation of innovative knowledge diagnostic tools for adaptive learning systems. These highly re-usable tools are based on the diagnostics of individual factual knowledge by means of knowledge maps.
PTO primarily targets students of psychopathology of adult age, but students of clinical psychology, psychiatry and continuing education (e.g. psychotherapy and psychiatry) might also benefit. Participating students are offered the opportunity to expand upon, differentiate and complete what they have learned in conventional courses by means of individually tailored multiple media access. The relevance of this project is highlighted by the importance of this field in clinical psychology and psychiatry. Moreover, the conventional courses are characterized by an inadequate student/ teacher ratio (up to 400 students/professorship), and are only able to provide a superficial, fragmentary and standardized presentation of the knowledge. As a consequence, a great deal of self-study is required on the part of the students, which can now be guided, executed and tested with the help of PTO. Individual needs of the learner with regard to previous knowledge, learning style, interest and motivation can be met more adequately than by the current ex cathedra courses. PTO aims to present basic and detailed expertise in the field of mental disorders. It contains approximately 80 basic modules / disorders. Each module consists of (a) introducing texts, (b) hyperlinks to aetiology, phenomenology, prevalence, therapy etc. and (c) interactive case examples. Where appropriate, more complex case examples, as well as (d) diagnostic interviews (video) and examples of therapy sessions (video) will be added. All modules are implemented at an overview knowledge level, and a selected number of lessons build up a more detailed level of knowledge. PTO consists of three self-contained learning phases, each of which is concluded with an ECTS exam: Phase 1 (2 ECTS) provides the learner with a structured overview of the field of knowledge based on 20 mental disorders, with learning progress monitored by a continuous relational diagnostics. Phase 2 (4 ECTS) expands upon the knowledge structure already built up by the assimilative integration of 60 new mental disorders in explicit relation to the disorders that have already been learnt. Also in this phase, the successive diagnostic process facilitates the adequate processing and integration of new information and if need be contents that have already been presented are repeated. After the basic structure has been established, Phase 3 (4 ECTS) consists of deepening knowledge concerning 20 particularly relevant disorders. The specific diagnostic and statistic tools were developed by the project leader in a Swiss National Fund project (11-63536.00). The implementation of these tools facilitates relational linking of knowledge and structure-adaptive guidance of the learner as two innovative aspects of e-learning. Structure-adaptive guidance is a new tool for recommending lessons adaptive to the current level of knowledge. The basis for this procedure is a relational diagnostics measuring the current level of knowledge as a cognitive map. By combining these innovative tools, which in the future will be applicable in many domains, with the "traditional" knowledge diagnostics, PTO extends beyond the didactic horizon of current systems of e-learning. By means of knowledge maps, PTO deliberately focuses on relational aspects (similarities, differences). This approach therefore takes into account criticisms of the hierarchical, categorical aspects of the ICD-10 by accentuating a dimensional perspective. At the same time, cognitive maps allow a categorical perspective to be kept in mind.

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