This weekend, I was digging around in my hard drive, and pulling files, as I’m working with Dr. Lindsay Davidson on the concept of integrated threads in our curriculum. (Stay tuned for a future blog.) All of a sudden, out popped a document called “3 key teaching principles,” which Dr. Elaine Van Melle and I worked on in 2008. It eventually became part of the Teaching and Learning Policy for UGME.
I took a look and it’s one of those ageless documents that I think we can still learn a lot from and perhaps refresh in the light of 2016. Do any of you recall “RIA“? Come take a journey back and forward with me around the 3 Key Principles of Relevance, Integration and Active learning.
All learning experiences should be . . .
“to have significant and demonstrable bearing on the needs of the learner.”
A student says, Why should I care about this?
A teacher says, Why is this important for a student to know?
- Creating relevance fosters interest, motivation and engagement. It is a key step in facilitating retention and transfer of information.
How can I make teaching/learning relevant?
- Illustrate clinical applicability in the primary management of patients
- Ask these key questions about foundational concepts: “What does every physician need to know about this concept?” and “What does a learner entering my sub-specialty need to know?”
- Link the material to the Medical Council of Canada’s (MCC) objectives as the MCC objectives document forms the basis for the licensing exam.
- Begin with a clear statement of essential learning objectives reasonable for the time allotted.
- Explicitly state the relationship between the learning experience and the assessment process
Back to 2016, consider this checklist for relevance in your teaching:
- Do I use case studies both of my own, and as activities to let students apply learning to “real life”? Do I use lots of examples to clarify concepts?
- Have I reviewed the MCC’s for my learning event and made sure that my teaching is aligned to them?
- Have I got 2-3 clear statements of learning objectives at the level the learners per 1 hour learning event?
- Can I state a key idea or “core message” for this one hour of teaching
- Do I describe why this is important for students to know?
Learning is enhanced when it is relevant, particularly to the solution and understanding of real-life problems and practice. (Kaufman and Mann, 2007)
“to be connected and interrelated”
A student says, Where does this fit?
A teacher says, How can I connect this with other teaching and learning?
- Connecting to the knowledge of the learner facilitates retention & transfer of information from one context to another
- You’re not the only person in the curriculum teaching about this topic.
How do I integrate?
- Ensure learning is appropriate to the level of the learner and relates to the learner’s previous experiences.
- Structure information in a way that demonstrates the relationship between key ideas.
- Link to other sessions to allow for progressive reinforcement of fundamental concepts.
- Connect with other teachers to minimize unnecessary redundancy.
- Create horizontal integration by explicitly connecting to sessions that have come before and those that will follow a particular learning experience.
- Create vertical integration by linking to other types of learning experiences that may be going on at the same time e.g. problem-based learning, clinical skills, basic science teaching, etc.)
Back in 2016, try this checklist for integrated learning:
- Have I vetted the level of learning in my teaching with other faculty, my course director and/or an Educational Developer?
- Have I checked where else in the curriculum the topics of this learning event are taught? (Tip: Year Director and Educational Developers can help. So can MEdTech: Curriculum: Curriculum Search. TLIC is working on Integrated Threads.)
- Is my learning event “integrated” and well-organized in itself with sub-topics, links back to the introduction and a summary? Do I provide an outline and refer back to it during the learning event to orient the students?
- Do I know where my material fits in with in Clinical Skills, FSGL, and other parts of this course as well as others?
- If I’m teaching in C2, or a clerkship seminar, does this topic build on and become more complex than the foundational concepts taught in years 1 or 2 and C1? (Have I looked back at those? Looked forward to C3? Thought about how this applies in clinical clerkship rotations?)
In the hands of the most effective instructors, [this] then becomes a way to clarify and simplify complex material while engaging important and challenging questions…(Bain, 2004)
“ Students engage with and take responsibility for learning”
A student says, How will I learn this?
A teacher says, How will I engage the students?
Why use active learning?
- Facilitates retention and transfer through the construction of new ideas and/or ways of thinking.
- Learning is a process that results in some modification, relatively permanent, of the learner’s way of thinking, feeling or doing.
- Requires the active construction of new ideas or ways of thinking on the part of the learner.
How do I use active learning strategies?
- Students are encouraged to take responsibility to achieve new levels of understanding and/or skill development
- Create learning environments that foster rich interactions among students, between the instructor and students, and between the student and the learning materials.
- Students learn well by doing, and participating in “real-world” experiences.
Here’s the 2016 checklist for active learning:
- How will I change the students’ ways of thinking, feeling or doing with this learning event
- As a way to engage, have I tried using video clips? Illustrations? Demonstrations? Real (live) patients? A poll to take the “temperature” of the class? My own experiences in the clinic or workplace?
- How can I get the students to “construct” new ideas? Have I tried asking probing questions in key places in the learning event, or providing a worksheet or algorithm for the session? Have I tried to present an intriguing question, problem or case study and use different points in my lecture to solve the problem? Can I use “real world” artifacts to engage the students?
- How can I get the students interacting with each other, or with me and other faculty or residents in the room? Have I tried partner work, or small group work? Have I thought about Group RATs? Have I tried, Think, Pair, Share?
- Do I pause at key points and “change up” what is happening in the room?
- Have I integrated student activity in the learning event, or partnered with an expanded clinical skills or clinical skills learning event?
- Do I give the students a chance to demonstrate what they are learning?
Learning is not a spectator sport. Students… must talk about what they are learning , write about it, relate it to past experiences, apply it to their daily lives.” (Chickering and Gamson, 1987)
I hope you’re finding the results of my filing cabinet diving helpful. Do the checklists make sense now in 2016? Is there anything here you can use? Please check in and let me know. Or contact one of us in Educational Development at UGME.