User blog: Duncan Ferguson
For those who were following the "Evidence-based Education" blog at http://vetmedacademy.blog, we will be closing this separate WordPress blog out on January 16, in anticipation of moving the blog to a new site we are developing as a web portal for the Moodle site. We will give notice when this new development is expected. All of the old blog posts will be on the new site, and new posts will be made once the site is up and going.
This TED video by Sal Khan of Khan Academy makes a strong case for competence based education, not linked to a fixed timeline. Why couldn't/shouldn't we do this in veterinary medicine?
What Does Adaptive Learning Really Mean?
I was once told by an Associate Dean for Academic Affairs that their school had looked at the grades of single pre-vet course series correlated best with grades of a student during the first 3 years of vet school. That course series was Physics. The instruction of students in conceptual and practical areas occurs in all areas of science. This article in the Chronicle of Higher Education describes Physics Professor Eric Mazur's recognition as he taught at Harvard that the traditional classroom lecture without interaction and without a focus on practical problem-solving, "had to go." Practical issues aside (this article addresses resistance from faculty in other scientific disciplines), what really is the difference between teaching students for longterm understanding of physics and teaching understanding of physiology, pharmacology, etc?
The founder and CEO of LearnDash Justin Ferriman published this piece amongst his very frequent blog musings:
In this article, it is suggested that a lecturer reserve the last 5 minutes of their time with students to do something different:
And the first 5 minutes should be something different too.
Late last year, the world lost arguably one of the most passionate practitioners of active and engaged learning. Professor John Rassias of my alma mater, Dartmouth College, died at the age of 90. The New York Times described his illustrious career as the penultimate educator and founder of the "Rassias Method" to learn foreign languages that immersed students in theatrical class sessions and reminded everyone that learning a language was most effective when you emulate the immersion experienced as a child learning your first language. Curiosity, reduced fear of failure, perhaps in a gamified and fun atmosphere, makes it "stick" much longer. As I watch my 8 month old granddaughter learn her first language, I just know that this is what she is experiencing!
I took French at Dartmouth but had had experience with it in high school, so took only one quarter to complete my requirements. I discovered on my first trip to Montreal that my 6 years of French instruction and ability to write and read Parisian French didn't carry me very far. I should have sought out a course with Dr. Rassias and then pursued study abroad. My second language now, thanks to my dear wife, is German, and I certainly can tell you that until I was immersed in the culture of Germany (by myself), my verbal skills didn't make much progress. It was about knowing that I had to try and was inevitably going to fail and fail multiple times before I'd see the pattern.
So, as we educate future veterinarians, should we not give students the leeway, *early in their training* to practice the thinking and language of their profession with less concern over failure and greater concern that the experience is authentic and immersive?
In 1980, talking to Johnny Carson on the Tonight Show, Dr. Rassias famously described teaching as follows:
"Teaching is like making love. The more you go at it with all of your senses ablaze, the deeper the pleasure, the more lasting the impression and the more willing one is to renew the act."
The best teachers create a world where they're no longer needed.
I have always felt this way. Shouldn't we focusing on the success of our students when they are "out there"? This article in the Feb. 9, 2016 Chronicle of Higher Education suggests that we should create longterm learning and habits in our students that projects to success in the work place, and not just with us present; in essence to "teach them to fish."
David Tollon and I attended the Learning 2015 conference organized by Elliot Masie. A major theme of this conference focused to adult learning was gamification. Some highlights of a keynote speaker Karl Kapp at that meeting on this topic can be found at:
I also was privileged to attend and conduct a workshop on Blended Learning and Critical Thinking at the InVeST educational meeting at the Tieraerztliche Hochshchule Hannover (Hannover University Veterinary School). At a session also on gamification, conversations around the session led to the realization that teaching drug calculations was a universal issue for faculty in working with vet students. I certainly could relate to that as a clinical pharmacologist! So, I discovered the following platform at http://jeopardylabs.com that allows you to enter questions on any topic and conduct a Jeopardy gameshow type of game. Here is Vet Drug Calculations version I developed. I'd be interested in other ideas that faculty or students have about creating simulations or games to increase interactivity.