A number of interactive computer programs were developed from 2003 to early 2008 in the context of two adjoining projects intended to be used for teaching psychodiagnostics. The project staff working on its development were affiliated with the Institute of Psychology at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam (EUR), the Faculty of Psychology at the Open University of the Netherlands (OUNL) and the psychology programme at the University of Twente (UT). The first project (duration 2003-2005) entitled Skills in Psychodiagnostics I (SiP I) was funded by the SURF Foundation (Initiator of innovation in Dutch higher education and research). The second project (duration 2006-2008), entitled Skills in Psychodiagnostics II (SiPs II) was funded by the Digital University (DU).
The objective of both projects was to develop interactive self-instruction programmes for the acquisition of (communication) skills required in psychological diagnosis. This primarily concerned generic professional skills, e.g. observation, interviewing and application of professional ethics, which are necessary for psychologists working in a professional practice. Secondly, this concerned more specific skills related to clinical psychological diagnostics applied to adults and developmental psychological diagnostics applied to children and juveniles.
The interactive learning materials took shape in the form of the SiPs (i.e. Skills in Psychodiagnostics modules).
The NIP's Certificate in Psychodiagnostics
The requirements of the Dutch Institute of Psychologists' Certificate in Psychodiagnostics were the starting point for both projects. The Certificate in Psychodiagnostics came into being in 1994. The objective according to Article 1 of the Certificate in Psychodiagnostics Regulations (1994) was that, ‘first-line psychologists, who, in the execution of their profession and decision-making procedures, apply psychodiagnostic methods [...] in respect to general psychodiagnostics, shall acquire the required knowledge and practical skills, that form the basis for attaining an adequate command of psychodiagnostics’. (p. 1) (p. 1)
The NIP drafted a new version of the code in 2009. Hardly any changes were made to the substantive requirements for attaining the Certificate.
How the SiPs evolved...
The CMT (cumulative micro training method was the most commonly used method applied during the development of the SiPs. Several studies have shown that this method leads to a great effect in terms of knowledge, skills and confidence in interviewing skills (Baker & Daniels, 1989; Baker, Daniels & Greeley, 1990; Van der Molen, Smit, Hommes & Lang, 1995; Daniels, 2003; Kuntze, Van der Molen & Born, 2007; Kuntze, Van der Molen & Born, 2009). During these studies CMT was mainly used in teaching interviewing skills. A characteristic of CMT is that complex skills are divided into sub-skills. In order to demonstrate a command of complex skills, students must conduct a ‘medical assistance interview' to acquire a command of the following sub-skills set: Interview guidance skills, listening skills (asking questions, recognizing feelings and reflecting) and advisory skills (Long & Van der Molen, 2004). New to this project was the fact that the method was also used for educational purposes in teaching students the different stages of the psychodiagnostic process.
In developing each SiP, as mentioned earlier, teams from three different institutions collaborated on the project, i.e. from: the Institute of Psychology of the Erasmus University Rotterdam, the Psychology Faculty at the Open University of the Netherlands and the psychology programme at the University of Twente. The institutions took turns in directing the projects. The objective was to design flexible programmes in such as way that they would fit in the institution’s own curriculum, but could also be incorporated into the programmes of the other universities. Each SiP consists of seven stages: