Vermont Medical School Says Goodbye To Lectures
Found in https://science.slashdot.org/story/17/08/04/2116207/vermont-medical-school-says-goodbye-to-lectures
Some amazing comments there:
As cynical as that sounds, it is absolutely correct. Having spent over 30 years in the arena, the takeover of universities by management is nothing short of shocking.
There are now more people shuffling papers around and pulling down 6 figure salaries keeping track of 5 thousand dollars worth of pencils than there are academics.
And if you want to know why college is so much more expensive now, they'll tell you they would have to hire 50 new accountants, 30 middle managers, 2 staff assistants, and have a building built to house them.
Then a year later, they'll release a report saying that the University needs to hire more accountants and managers.
The best teaching technique I've ever seen was that practiced by the Bible Study Fellowship back in the 1980s. All the material was broken down into 1-week chunks. You started with reading assignments and an outline that you did on your own. This was followed by a weekly small-group discussion where the group collectively answered a series of questions on the same material. This was followed by a lecture of the whole fellowship. The lecture was now very interesting, because you had personally worked through the material, worked with others to process it and cover the bits you didn't get on your own, and now you had some appreciation of what you were dealing with.
I adopted that pattern for every course I've ever had to teach, and the retention is phenomenal, 90% and higher.
My opinion is it worked so well because:
- Same material, multiple processing methods (reading, writing, talking, listening)
- Same material, multiple repetitions
- Your FIRST introduction to the material is personal. That increases "ownership".
- Questions answered BY a small group invite collaboration and sharing
There you have it.
How is this different than the Problem Based Learning (PBL) [wikipedia.org] approach pioneered at McMaster medical school in the 60s (and since adopted worldwide)?
As students at Mac, we often got a kick out of seeing even our fiercest crtics at schools like the University of Toronto slowly come around to our pedagogy, but with subtly different names of course (ie, case-based learning).
It works great for medical school, and I think would also apply well to graduate school, where you have pressure to obtain results or not embarass yourself on the wards to drive your learning -- often jokingly called "Shame-based learning" in medicine. On the other hand, the students that I met that used PBL during their undergrad often had frighteningly large gaps in their knowledge if they weren't interested in a particular topic. And PBL is not at all suited to giving grades out, which is not a problem at med school which are almost exclusively pass-fail, but does not help you sort the wheat from the chaff at an undergrad level.