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Bill Cope, University of Illinois


In the following series of videos, Dr. Bill Cope of the College of Education at the University of Illinois, calls for educators to move away from student assessments that attempt to put students along a bell-shaped curve of educational achievement, seeking rather to move all students towards similar proficiency (mastery).

Parts 3 and 4 describe in detail the social learning platform that we have employed with veterinary students to analyze their ability to write a case analysis, perform peer reviews of each others work, and even self-reflect on their own engagement in improvement of their work. In other words, rather than evaluate only a single timepoint of the “final product,” the student’s progress and participation in identifying communication or content issues with other students’ work and seeks to lead to a more uniform high quality outcome for all students following review and revision of a first draft.
As a participating instructor and collaborator of Dr. Cope, I should add that our goal was to improve all students’ ability to reflect and think critically about what they know and don’t know, and to teach them about the practical aspects of evidence-based medicine. To be honest, our experience with first year veterinary students was similar to that described by academics attempting to teaching evidence-based medicine at 22 North American veterinary schools described in the J. Vet Med Education paper on which I commented in the previous blog post. That is, perhaps because it is limited to 5-10% of the students’ instructional time (and yes, participation grade), the critical clinical thinking (problem-solving) exercises do stick out “like a sore thumb” within the largely content and fact-driven curriculum as delivered mostly in lectures. As Dr. Cope points out, the final versions of the student case analyses reflect impressive depth of thought, research and writing for first year veterinary students. Nonetheless, a fundamental question remains for us…if we don’t alter curricular expectations throughout the 4 year experience, can we expect students to take the lesson of team-based peer review and quality assurance from the first year of vet school through into their careers as a problem-solving veterinarian?

With that preamble, I encourage you to at least review the first and last of these short videos to gain an impression of what Dr. Cope is encouraging all educators to consider…that is mastery-based education powered by the affordances of new computational learning platforms.

5.1: Mastery Learning Perspective

5.2: The Not So New School

5.3 Learning Analytics in Scholar – specific example of use of Scholar learning analytics platform to follow veterinary student progress through a case analysis writing project with peer review.

5.4: Visualizing Learning

5.5: Summary: New Learning: Because We Can We Should