Since its inception AQR has tried to tailor courses and workshops to the needs of its members, but this is no easy task as these change constantly. Moderating skills is a good example. This is the second time it has been run in its new format, and it is still evolving as tutors and attendees provide feedback.

Programme transformation

AQR’s Chloe Fowler and her education sub-committee have been in charge of a transformation which sees them able to provide a one-day course with content that stretches beyond the boundaries of the day — but comes without the need for attendees to attend for any longer.

“It’s a good format because it is very hands on and everybody participates,” she says. “We get them to fill in a questionnaire in advance, plus there’s a webinar beforehand, so they come along engaged with the course before it even begins.” And for those who fancy something with a bit more theory, in May there will be AQR’s two-day Moderating Skills Workshop, currently scheduled for the 14th and 15th.

This popular session is convened by Ruth Preston of Peppermint with her team of three experienced tutors. What can you expect? Ruth has devised a supportive tutor-based workshop, in which theory and skills are instilled and practiced through a seminar session, and attendees are given a taster of 3 x projective techniques to be experienced over lunch.

Techniques and skills are then fine tuned in tutor groups of between five and six delegates before being put into practice when they moderate a live focus group on day two.

Previous delegates have praised the moderation practice and probing exercises, as well as the post-moderation advice offered. They also appreciate being able to watch videos of the sessions, picking up on what other people notice and being able to self-evaluate.

Last year AQR ran the two-day Mod Skills Workshop, followed by the analysis course, putting them under a nuts and bolts logo. This year both mod skills sessions have been designed separately, with Chloe’s ideal for the future to have a package that includes a rerun of the ‘how to do analysis’ course, running possibly into ‘how to tell a story’. “Those are two that I haven’t badged together as yet, though,” she says, “because I know the ‘how to moderate’ is the priority."

“In the long term, though, I’d like to have a suite of courses that covers all those areas for less experienced researchers, so that they can pick and choose their modules.”

Moderating is still important

The continued demand for mod skills is a positive, Chloe feels. “It shows that the industry is committed to teaching the basics of moderating in a world where people are saying that it is all going online. But we never seem to have a problem filling those courses, which implies that moderating is still very important to us as an industry.”