Monthly “FacDev Notes”  Archive

July 2010: 5 Rules for an Effective "Distance Dialogue" in Today's Virtual Workplace

August 2010: How to Handle Criticism: Accepting feedback with good grace

September 2010: Five Reminders for Boosting Your Effectiveness as a Teacher

October 2010: 10 Ways to Use Online Videos

November 2010: Writing Effective Goals and Objectives for Learning

December 2010: Millennials (1977-1998 – Boomers kids)

February 2011: Building Rapport with Your Students (or anyone)

March 2011: Tips for Effective Use of Visual Aids

April 2011: Learning through Teaching

May 2011: Brain scientists offer medical educators tips on the neurobiology of learning

June 2011: 10 Common Time Management Mistakes

July 2011: Checklists for Precepting

August 2011: Fighting for Feedback

September 2011: Effective Clicker Questions

October 2011: Using Polling and Smartphones to Keep Students Engaged

November 2011: 6 Ways to Use Class Discussion to Promote Transformation

December 2011: Use "Appropriate" Humor

January 2012: Social media in classroom

February 2012: Student Self-Assessment: A Sample Assignment

March 2012: How to Give Feedback

April 2012: Should Professors Use Facebook to Communicate with Students? One Opinion.

May 2012: Get a coach!

June 2012: Teaching with Technology

July 2012: Students Share Their Thoughts on Active Learning

August 2012: 25 Apps for Osteopathic Medical Educators

September 2012: WINNING Instructional Strategies

October 2012: Five Characteristics of Learner-Centered Teaching

November 2012: Choosing Instructional Strategies in Medicine

December 2012: Five Competencies for Culturally Competent Teaching and Learning

January 2013: Three Ways to Ask Better Questions in the Classroom

February  2013: The APP Of The WEEK

March  2013: Crib Sheets

April  2013: Preparing To Teach at a Distance

May  2013:  Professional Faculty Development: The Necessary Fourth Leg

June  2013: Learner-Centered Teaching: Good Places to Begin

July 2013: Student Comments: Moving from Participation to Contribution

August 2013: What Students Appreciate in a Teacher

September 2013: Prompts That Get Students to Analyze, Reflect, Relate, and Question

October 2013: Five Tips for Fostering Learning

November 2013: Encouraging Non-Participants to Join in Your Discussion

December 2013: How We Learn and How We Teach

January 2014: Fighting For Feedback

February 2014: The "Good Teacher"

March 2014: Critical Relection - Brain Work for Learning That Sticks!

April 2014:  Make Up Month - Learning Philosophy vs Teaching Philosophy

May 2014: #10 Spend time in the slide sorter

June 2014: Lecture Well!

July 2014: The 13 PowerPoint Sins You Must Avoid

August 2014: Instructional Strategy to Engage Learners, “Exit Slips”

September 2014: 6 Quick Brain-Based Teaching Strategies

October 2014: Educational Games Support Learning

November 2014: Setting Clear Expectations

December 2014:  Listen!

January 2015: Think Pair Share

More to come...!


July 2010: 5 Rules for an Effective "Distance Dialogue" in Today's Virtual Workplace

1.    Establish the Purpose and Importance Up Front

Sometimes, especially if people are distant from one another, different needs, agendas, concerns, or problems can create multiple expectations.  To avoid this obstacle, everyone needs to be clear about why the discussion is taking place and why it is important.


2.    Listen!

Some distance communication tools present obstacles to open, interactive communication. In a face-to-face meeting you may notice someone’s confusion or desire to make a comment by his or her wrinkled brow—a cue not observable on a teleconference.  Be aware of the absence of visual cues in virtual meetings and “reach out” verbally by asking for input, suggestions, or questions.  Listen to what is said...and what ISN’T said!


3.    Avoid Monologues

The tendency to “tell” can be exaggerated by the technology being used and the reluctance of dispersed participants to speak up as readily as they would in a face-to-face discussion.  Therefore, you’ll need to carefully avoid the “monologue trap” by clearly and frequently inviting interaction and input by others.


4.    Summarize Often and Confirm Understanding

This gives you the opportunity to review what’s been discussed and decided.  You can also clear up any misunderstandings in the moment.  Do this periodically throughout a virtual interaction, and also at the end.


5.    Agree on Actions / Follow-Up

A specific effort to confirm agreements and follow-up activities helps you avoid confusion about who’s doing what by when.  Depending upon the nature of the interaction, the time urgency, and the complexity of the situation, it may be helpful to also follow up with a summary of actions by memo or e-mail.  We all know how easy it is to forget what we discussed with someone; so having a written record can save time and frustration in the future.


Source: Walk The Talk: Our mission at  is both simple and straightforward: to provide you and your organization with high-impact resources for your personal and professional success.  They offer hundreds of tactical and practical tools… each designed to inspire, inform, and most important, take you to higher levels of skills and confidence. 

NOTE FROM STEVE: Clear communication is often difficult even in person…via technology there’s another layer of challenge.  This is a good reminder on the basics of communication and especially #5…that is the one that seems to be missed by me more often than I’d like to admit. 

All society is being challenged by a new order in instant and ubiquitous communication tools…and we’re all learning to adapt.  They are just tools.  We should identify the assets and liabilities and try to maximize the assets and minimize the liabilities – easier said than done

Discuss this with a friend, family member and colleague so we can keep communication at its best!


August 2010: How to Handle Criticism: Accepting feedback with good grace

There are important differences in how you should respond to fair and unfair criticism, so you need to be able to tell them apart.

Fair criticism is given in a respectful, non-threatening way. It includes factual statements, and focuses on actions to be taken, rather than on the person responsible for them. For example, your boss might say to you after a presentation, "Your slides weren't as effective as they could have been. If you'd had less text on them, people would have listened more to you, instead of just trying to read your slides. Some extra pictures would make it more interesting next time, too."

 Unfair criticism may be delivered in a harsh way, using broad unspecific terms or generalizations, and possibly in a public place where there are plenty of other listening ears. However, what really marks out criticism as being unfair is when the criticisms "melt away" when you challenge them rationally. see our article, "Dealing with Unfair Criticism", for more on how to handle this.

 Some constructive responses to reasonable criticism.

Adjust your Attitude: Start by looking at criticism as an opportunity to learn and do better.  The person offering the feedback is usually keen for you to improve your performance.  You can make sure that the conversation starts on the right note by approaching the situation with an open mind, and by having a sense of gratitude that someone's taking the time to help you.  Resist the temptation to be defensive!

Disconnect: It's important to realize that fair criticism is about something you've done or said, not about you personally. Try to disconnect your personal feelings from the criticism, so that you can see the truth in what the other person's saying.

Really Listen: Make sure that you actually listen to what is being said.  It can be easy to just nod in apparent agreement, while, in reality, you're busy thinking about what you're going to say as soon as the other person has stopped talking.  That isn't really listening: you need to listen actively in order to understand just what it is that they're saying.

 Don't Respond Immediately: Always take time to formulate your thoughts, and make sure you're calm before you say anything.  When we fire back immediately we often say things we regret, and which make us look unprofessional.  If you find that you need more than a few seconds to calm down, then say so.  Ask for some time to formulate your response, and come back with it later.  And if the criticism was received by e-mail, don't press the Reply button straight away!

 Paraphrase the Criticism: Repeating what the person just said in your own words is a great way to make sure you've understood them fully.  Use a non-aggressive approach here.  Remain calm, and rephrase what you think they've said in a unthreatening way.  You might say, "So if I'm understanding you correctly, you think that…"

 Find the Facts: If the person offering criticism isn't being specific enough, then ask questions.  It's important to find out what the real issue is.  If your boss says, "I didn't like your last report", then get details.  What didn't she like about it?

 Admit Mistakes: People who own up to their mistakes are respected and admired.  When you freely take responsibility for something that hasn't worked out as you would have wished, you're demonstrating professionalism and maturity.  If you're in the wrong, admit it and apologize.  Agreeing with your critic puts you both on common ground, and can often foster an atmosphere of mutual respect and open communication.

 Learn from the Experience: Fair criticism can help us improve our performance, if we take the time to learn from it.  So, spend some time thinking about what happened, and what your critic said.  Come up with a plan for how you're going to fix the situation and avoid the same mistake next time.

 Be Thankful: After you've gained perspective on the experience, thank the person for taking the time to give you feedback.  Many people feel uncomfortable giving criticism, just as many people are uncomfortable receiving it.  Explain how it has helped you, and what you've learned from the experience.



September 2010: Five Reminders for Boosting Your Effectiveness as a Teacher

NOTE FROM STEVE: We are all teachers…in fact doctor means teacher.  However, we are often uncritical of ourselves as teachers.  This month’s reminder is about taking a moment to reflect, review and revive good teaching practice as we model and mold the next generation of healers. 

 Thank you for your interest and work in medical education!


I have observed, sometimes in myself and sometimes in colleagues, a certain tendency to be ironically unaware of (or inattentive to) a crucial disconnect between what we say and what we do.

We’re good at talking the talk, but we are not so good at walking the walk, particularly in terms of our audience awareness.

 We teach students to assess the communication context and adapt their messages to respond to the audience’s needs and desires.  But how often do we fail to do that same thing with our teaching?  If we are honest with ourselves, I believe the answer is “far too often.”

Here are five principles I try to reclaim when I feel myself slipping into that dark night where even my best efforts are revealed as ineffective and the only remedy is a candid self-assessment.

 1. Practice what you preach. Students can smell a rat from the next building, so if I am insisting upon audience awareness as a basic tenet of effective communication, I’d better be showing as well as telling them how to do it. Think about it this way: how am I demonstrating audience awareness if I never deviate from the lesson plan I prepared five, 10, or even 15 years ago? How am I modeling flexibility of thought and expression if I insist upon using the same lecture notes, overhead transparencies, or PowerPoint slides even when it’s clear I have lost my audience? Are you finding it hard to connect with your students? Practice what you preach: sharpen your audience awareness and adapt accordingly.

 2. Remember that “adaptive” is not a synonym for “easier.” While teachers can discuss their assignments and exercises with a level of conviction that borders on the religious, suggest experimenting with something new, something that shifts the paradigm from teaching to learning, and you’re likely to experience the academic equivalent of a smack-down, cloaked in the polarizing rhetoric of “rigor” versus “dumbing down” the curriculum. Change is inherently neutral. Adaptive change is good. Just ask the dodo. Wait, the dodo is extinct. Precisely.

 3. Reflect upon the meaning of the verb “to educate,” which comes from the Latin educere, “to draw forth.” We cannot “draw forth” a student’s interest, awareness, and ability if we never leave our egocentric elevation on center stage. Drawing forth suggests a reaching in and a pulling out, a teacher-initiated effort to meet the student where he or she is and move forward together. It implies another-orientation, a willingness to set our own comfort aside and risk entering the student’s cerebral territory—however unsettling that prospect may be.

 4. Put yourself back in their shoes. Do we recall how frustrating it can be to know what you want to say but find it hard to say it effectively?  Were we born knowing how to develop a solid thesis statement and at least x-number of strong supporting points?  Humility is an underutilized virtue.  Plenty of bright people in this world could not identify the “best” thesis statement from a list of possibilities.  It’s helpful to reflect upon that from time to time.

5. Try and try again. We have all heard colleagues wax eloquent about students’ inability to translate knowledge from one context to another—for example, to think about something they learned in an economics class while reading an assignment for an English class.  Are we guilty of the same silo mentality?  I wonder.  If we only view “revision” as a topic related to writing, then we are missing the point in a serious way. Revision is a life skill. The point is that experimenting with new instructional strategies is going to be at best a series of educated guesses. Know when to cut your losses and move on to the next method.  The more you try, the more likely you are to succeed now and then.  And when we succeed, our students succeed.

Excerpted from Talking the Talk, but Not Walking the Walk: A Meditation on Irony, May 2008, The Teaching Professor.   Author: Kim Taylor, PhD and instructor at Trident Technical College, SC.  Permalink:


October 2010: 10 Ways to Use Online Videos

NOTE FROM STEVE:  Taking advantage of the plethora of online videos has become quite easy and it’s almost guaranteed you can find a video (or easily make one) that illustrates your lesson points


Try inserting one in your next lecture …it’s as easy as copying and pasting a URL into an object – just highlight any item on a slide (picture, word, table, etc.), right click your mouse, select “Hyperlink,” type or paste the video URL into the “Address” block on the hyperlink pop up and save


When you show that slide and move the mouse pointer over the object it will transform the arrow pointer to a hand with pointing index…then if you click on it the movie opens and begins (assuming your classroom computer is connected to the internet).


The normal human capacity for attention is 9 minutes (John Medina, Brain Rules) so plan on something (a short video perhaps) to get them engaged and recapture their attention every 10 minutes or so. 


All the best and thank you for choosing to be a medical educator…you shape our future medical care individuals, teams and systems!


10 Ways to Use Online Videos  
1. Online Video Anchoring: Use online videos to anchor your instruction and make it come to life.
2. Online Video Ender: Employ online videos to wrap up a class, activity, lecture, or other course event.
3. On Demand Key Concept Reflections: Play a shared online video when appropriate to illustrate points, concepts, principles, or theories from the current unit, chapter, or lecture.
4. Pause and Reflect: In a live class, you can play a portion of a video in YouTube or some other source and reflect on the content and then play another section and so on; continuous video, chat, and reflection.
5. Online Class Previews and Discussion: Post useful online videos to the course management system for students to watch prior to or after class.
6. Cool Resource Provider Handouts: Ask students to sign up to be the person who finds and presents relevant online videos (i.e., the “cool resource provider”) after which the class can discuss or debate them.
7. Anchor Creators: Require students to create their own YouTube videos to illustrate course concepts or ideas.
8. Video Anchor Competitions: Assign students to find relevant videos for the week and send the list to the instructor(s) for viewing and selecting (with class recognition or bonus points if used).
9. Video Anchor Debates: Create a task where students are required to find YouTube or other online video content representing the pros and cons of a key class issue or topic which they discuss or debate.
10. Anchor Creator Interviews: Require that students find YouTube videos relevant to course concepts and then interview the video creator or invite that person in for a class chat.
(List by Curtis J. Bonk, Professor and author of The World is Open: How Web Technology is Revolutionizing Education ( Instructional Systems Technology Department, Indiana University Personal Homepage: Email: or



November 2010: Writing Effective Goals and Objectives for Learning

Greetings from the Office of Faculty Development,


Effecting teaching begins with the end in mind, therefore, understand the science and art of developing educational objectives is KEY!

Objectives should be brief statements of observable and measurable outcomes that specifically and clearly address a single skill or content area.  

A common guideline for writing learning objectives is known by the acronym SMART. This reminds us that learning objectives should be:







The Three Components of a Good Objective:

-       Timeframe for learning the skill or content, an action verb, and a single content area. The statements are learner-centered and usually begin with a phrase that describes the timeline for learning the skill or content, such as “At the conclusion of this course the learner will…”

-       Action verb - clearly illustrate what the learner will be able to do after learning the content or skill. For example, “At the conclusion of this course, the learner will be able to differentiate between…” Avoid vague verbs such as “know” or “comprehend.”  Objectives developed around these verbs will be difficult to assess.  See for a list of verbs based upon Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives.

-       Content area or skill - linked to the design, purpose, and content of the course.


Establishing educational objectives is KEY to successful learning!  It sets clear expectations and provides an venue for feedback, assessment and verified growth.  If you’re teaching without them it’s like driving blind.  Try establishing one or more for your next teaching encounter…have your protg develop one or more so they know what to expect and also develop that skill!!!



For more information and examples see: Developing Learning Objectives

         Locally developed Power Point guides process and has examples

         Locally developed two page primer synopsizing writing learning objectives

         I.O.W.A. Instructional Objective Writing Assistant from School of Civil and Environmental Engineering Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA.

         How to Construct Learning Objectives from American Physiological Society

  •    Objective Writing Verbs
  • =====================================================

    December 2010: Millennials (1977-1998 – Boomers kids)

    Millennials (1977-1998 – Boomers kids) and their life-balancing, tech-oriented, team-playing doctors are taking over.  But what kind of healthcare will they give us?

    Part of their advantage comes from training.  Instead of the lecture halls and fact-based programs that Baby Boomers came up in, younger doctors increasingly learn in smaller groups with emphasis on teamwork, information processing, and problem solving, says Kirch.


    "Previously, we acted as if physicians could accumulate all the knowledge they needed and carry it around with them.  But the amount of relevant information for making clinical decisions now far exceeds the ability of one brain to hold it," he says.  "So the current student understands that even more importantly than accumulating facts, they need to be adept at accessing and judging information in real time while doing clinical work."


    And the healthcare system is slowly beginning to reflect the priorities of the new training environment.  Medical homes and other pilot programs are teaming physicians together and demanding more collaboration and coordination than ever before; processes and outcomes are being tracked and used to improve quality, and even determine payment; and hospitals and physicians are being pushed and pulled away from paper records.

    Elyas Bakhtiari, for HealthLeaders Magazine, July 9, 2009


    NOTE FROM STEVE: The only constant is change.  We are admitting amazing students who’ve grown up communicating differently than (and many of our patients) we did.   In some ways better and in some ways perhaps not.  Regardless, that is our emerging reality.  Do all you can to understand them (quick overview:  Always remember and remind them, no matter what, how or why medicine is practiced, IATP (It’s About The Patient)


    February 2011: Building Rapport with Your Students (or anyone)

    Rapport, defined as “the ability to maintain harmonious relationships based on affinity”, is more colloquially thought of as what happens when two people “click”—they connect, interact well, and respond to each other favorably.

    Often it happens when two people are very much alike or have lots in common. That’s one of the reasons it isn’t always easy for professors to establish rapport with students—sometimes there’s a big age difference; others times it’s having few (if any) shared interests. However, there are good reasons for faculty to work on establishing rapport with students. The article referenced below lists outcomes, all established by research, that result when rapport is established.

    Here’s a selection from the larger list that does seem particularly relevant and that is supported by some research involving teachers and students.

    Rapport does not result in learning, but it certainly helps to create conditions conducive to learning—things like higher motivation, increased comfort, and enhanced communication. Teaching doesn’t always result in learning either, but, like rapport, it is one of those factors that can contribute positively to learning.

    Five factors for building rapport
    …Research revealed what a teacher can/should do to establish rapport?  Five factors appeared almost twice as often as others.

    1. Respect. Teachers and students must show respect for each other, for the learning process, and for the institution where it is occurring.
    2. Approachability. Students have to feel comfortable coming to faculty and faculty must be willing to speak with students, after class, during office hours, via email, on campus.
    3. Open communication. Faculty must be honest. There needs to be consistency between what faculty say and what they do.
    4. Caring. Faculty must care about students; they must see and respond to them as individuals. They also need to care about learning and show that they want students to learn the material.
    5. Positive attitude. Faculty should have a sense of humor and be open to points of view other than their own.

    Rapport is not something developed by announcement.  Rapport is developed by actions—it results from things teachers do.  The good news, as demonstrated by the content of this article, is that we know empirically what teachers can do to establish rapport.  The even better news is that the actions required aren’t all that difficult to execute.

    Source: The Teaching Professor, volume 23, number 6, page 2. “Rapport: Why Having It Makes a Difference”

    NOTE FROM STEVE:  Grade yourself from 1 to 10 on each of the five factors, pick your lowest score, make a plan to move that score up a notch, share the plan with a colleague who’s doing this too and hold each other accountable.  Intentional improvement is what faculty development is all about.


    March 2011: Tips for Effective Use of Visual Aids

    To PowerPoint or not to PowerPoint,” this is a question that all presenters must ask.  Visual aids (PowerPoint, overheads, flip charts, DVDs, etc.) can add power and depth to a presentation, often boosting attention, clarity, and interest.  But beware, used ineffectively visual aids can weaken a presentation or, in the worst case scenario, alienate the participants.

    Below are some common sense tips to help you incorporate visual aids effectively:


          Be sure your visual aids can be seen and understood by everyone.

          If you are using technology, be certain that you can use it proficiently.  Fumbling with the equipment will break the flow of any presentation.

          Don’t overuse visual aids; use them only when they support your content directly

          Don’t overload any visual aid with too many words or graphics

          Remember that your visual aids support your presentation, they are not the presentation itself

          Ask yourself if any particular visual aid will increase learning.  If it doesn’t do this directly, don’t use it.

          Always ask yourself the question:  “Why am I using this visual aid and does it work to increase the impact of my presentation?”

          Always have a backup plan if a visual aid fails (like a bulb burning out)

          Be sure to avoid using copyrighted material without permission

          Make certain that the room’s lighting supports your visual aid.  Watch for things like glare, a washed out screen, dark spots, etc.

          Don’t allow visual aids to take your attention away from the participants. 

          Be very aware of your timing.  Don’t. for example,  rush through your slides so people can’t keep up or, on the flip side, don’t break your delivery rhythm by lingering too long on one visual.

          Remember that your audience is literate so you don’t have to read everything on your visuals to them, assuming of course that they can see your visuals clearly.

          Overuse of one kind of visual is usually the kiss of death for presenters.  For example, taking the time to write every little thing on a flip chart sheet will try the patience of even the most forgiving participant.

          If you are writing on a transparency or flipchart, be sure your handwriting is legible and large enough to be seen by everyone.

          Be color cognizant – contrasting background and font so it’s easy to read



    SEE ALSO: “How to avoid Death by PowerPoint” and “Powerpoint on Creating Better PowerPoints” at

    NOTE FROM STEVE: at a minimum use the above information as a checklist for your next presentation and/or presentation feedback…also remember Rule #4 of John Medina’s “Brain Rules,” We don’t pay attention to boring things.”  Try to re-engage your audience every 10-15 minutes with some sort of activity…question, drawing, think/pair/share, story, picture, game, quiz, challenge, movement, etc. – build it right into the presentation! 



    April 2011: Learning through Teaching

    Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth learning can be taught.” – Oscar Wilde


    Russell L. Ackoff tells a wonderful story in the podcast for the book he wrote with Daniel Greenberg “Turning Learning Right Side Up:”  After lecturing to undergraduates at a major university, I was accosted by a student who had attended the lecture. After some complimentary remarks, he asked, “How long ago did you teach your first class?”  I responded, “In September of 1941.”  “Wow!” The student said. “You mean to say you have been teaching for more than 60 years?”  “Yes.”  “When did you last teach a course in a subject that existed when you were a student?”  This difficult question required some thought. After a pause, I said, “September of 1951.”  “Wow! You mean to say that everything you have taught in more than 50 years was not taught to you; you had to learn on your own?”  “Right.” “You must be a pretty good learner.”  I modestly agreed.  The student then said, “What a shame you’re not that good a teacher.


    The story shows that the skill required to become a college professor is the ability to learn, not the ability to teach.  But Ackoff is making the deeper point that most of our learning comes outside of formal education.  Even teachers learned most of what they teach outside of formal education.  But we also learn by teaching, and so one of the best ways to teach is to turn students into teachers.  Teaching produces learning by not only forcing the teacher to learn the material himself or herself, but also by forcing the teacher to, as Ackoff says, “figure out how to link their frame of reference to the worldview of the person receiving the explanation, so that the explanation can make sense to that person, too.”  The explainer must circle around the topic to understand it, and its value, from different perspectives, and thus get underneath it in a way that produces a deeper understanding for themselves.


    I require all of my students to produce a digital teaching module on a class topic.  The students use wikis, videos, VoiceThread, narrated PowerPoint, and other tools to deliver the content.  They also must incorporate an assessment such as an online quiz or game. The result is a much deeper understanding of the material themselves, as well as pride in producing a result that is public and could help others to learn as well.  Consider the ways that you can turn your students into teachers, and thus learners.


    Podcast on Russell L. Ackoff and Daniel Greenberg’s book “Turning Learning Right Side Up.” Access it here
    “Project Based Learning Explained” Excellent Common Craft video. Watch the video here

    Source: By: John Orlando, PhD in Teaching and Learning - 


    NOTE FROM STEVE: Think about your next teaching assignment and think of one tactic you can use to get your students engaged in developing some teaching activity…one excellent suggestion is to have THEM develop some test questions either individually or in small groups.  That way you get help writing questions.  You can promise them you’ll use some of their questions (with editing rights) so they’re invested and doing exact what you want…thinking and learning the material. 


    May 2011: Brain scientists offer medical educators tips on the neurobiology of learning

    The research

    “One of the most exciting advances, as a result of optical imaging of the living brain, is the demonstration that there is growth, retraction, and modifying connectivity between neurons," said Friedlander. "We have also seen that the mature brain can generate new neurons, although, this research is so new that the functional implications of these new neurons and their potential contribution to learning and memory formation remain to be determined," he said.




    Repetition: Medical curricula often employ compressed coverage over limited time frames of a great amount of material.  Learning theory and the neurobiology of learning and memory suggest that going deeper is more likely to result in better retention and depth of understanding.  With repetition, many components of the neural processes become more efficient, requiring less energy and leaving higher-order pathways available for additional cognitive processing.  However, repetitions must be appropriately spaced.  Addressing the same information using different sensory processes, such as seeing and hearing, enhances the learning process, potentially bringing more neural hardware to bear to process and store information.


    Reward and reinforcement: Reward is a key component of learning at all stages of life. "The brain's intrinsic reward system – self-congratulations with the realization of success -- plays a major role in reinforcement of learned behaviors," Friedlander said. "An important factor is the realization that accomplishing an immediate goal and a successful step toward a future goal can be equally rewarding."  In the case of medical students, there are considerable rewards ahead of them in addition to the more immediate rewards of the satisfaction of understanding medicine.  The students who derive joy from learning as they proceed through their medical education may have a greater chance of using the brain's capacity to provide reward signals on an ongoing basis, facilitating their learning process.


    Visualization: Visualization and mental rehearsal are real biological processes with associated patterned activation of neural circuitry in sensory, motor, executive, and decision-making pathways in the brain.  Internally generated activity in the brain from thoughts, visualization, memories, and emotions should be able to contribute to the learning process.


    Active engagement: There is considerable neurobiological evidence that functional changes in neural circuitry that are associated with learning occur best when the learner is actively engaged.. Learners' having multiple opportunities to assume the role of teacher also invoke neural motivation and reward pathways -- and another major biological component of the learning process: stress.  Doing is learning. And success at doing and learning builds confidence.


    Stress: Although the consequences of stress are generally considered undesirable, there is evidence that the molecular signals associated with stress can enhance synaptic activity involved in the formation of memory. However, particularly high levels of stress can have opposite effects. The small, interactive teaching format may be judiciously employed to moderately engage the stress system.


    Fatigue: Patterns of neuronal activity during sleep reinforce the day's events. Research suggests that it is important to have appropriate downtime between intense problem-solving sessions. Downtime permits consolidation away from the formal teaching process.


    Multitasking: Multitasking is a distraction from learning, unless all of the tasks are relevant to the material being taught.  The challenge is to integrate information from multiple sources, such as a lecture and a hand-held device.


    Individual learning styles: Neural responses of different individuals vary, which is the rationale for embracing multiple learning styles to provide opportunities for all learners to be most effectively reached.  See


    "By appealing not only to students' capacity to derive pleasure from learning about medicine but also to their intellectual capacity for understanding the rationale for the educational process selected … real motivation can be engendered. … They become more effective communicators and enhance their patients' success at learning the information they need for managing their own health and treatments as well."


    Source: Excerpted from - "What Can Medical Education Learn From the Neurobiology of Learning?" by Michael J. Friedlander, PhD; Linda Andrews, MD; Elizabeth G. Armstrong, PhD; Carol Aschenbrenner, MD; Joseph S. Kass, MD; Paul Ogden, MD; Richard Schwartzstein, MD; and Thomas R. Viggiano, MD, MEd. Academic Medicine, Vol. 86, No. 4 / April 2011


    NOTE FROM STEVE:  Education should result in positive knowledge, skill and attitude changes.  To make this practical, check yourself against the recommendations, discuss them with your colleagues & charges, identify at least one thing you’ll try to do differently as a result – write it down, share it for accountability and grow!  Repeat for your students…if you’re doing it, they will follow.  They’re watching you!!


    For a bit more on the brain and learning see “Brain Based Pedagogy” and “Brain Rules” on our FD website @ (third column, “BOTH”) about half way down.



    June 2011: 10 Common Time Management Mistakes

    NOTE FROM STEVE:  I’ve often heard it said, time is most precious resource.  All of us can probably use it more wisely.  For this month’s note I’ve pulled from one of my favorite resources, “Mind Tools” (  There is an entire section devoted to “Time Management” along with 11 other essential work skills sections J.   I frequent this site when I’m looking for quick helpful tips for my constituents – like you


    Thank for your work in medical education!  There is no way to truly measure your impact except to remember the impact your educators had on you…it’s profound, enduring, empowering and the gift that keeps on giving


    10 Common Time Management Mistakes

    Mistake #1. Failing to Keep a To-Do List

    Do you ever have that nagging feeling that you've forgotten to do an important piece of work? If so, you probably don't use a To-Do List to keep on top of things. (Or, if you do, you might not be using it effectively!)

    Mistake #2. Not Setting Personal Goals

    Do you know where you'd like to be in six months? What about this time next year, or even 10 years from now? If not, it's time to set some personal goals!

    Mistake #3. Not Prioritizing

    Your assistant has just walked in with a crisis that she needs you to deal with right now, but you're in the middle of brainstorming ideas for a new client. You're sure that you've almost come up with a brilliant idea for their marketing campaign, but now you risk losing the thread of your thinking because of this "emergency."

    Mistake #4. Failing to Manage Distractions

    Do you know that some of us can lose as much as two hours a day to distractions? Think how much you could get done if you had that time back!

    Mistake #5. Procrastination

    Procrastination occurs when you put off tasks that you should be focusing on right now. When you procrastinate, you feel guilty that you haven't started; you come to dread doing the task; and, eventually, everything catches up with you when you fail to complete the work on time.

    Mistake #6. Taking on too Much

    Are you a person who has a hard time saying "no" to people? If so, you probably have far too many projects and commitments on your plate. This can lead to poor performance, stress, and low morale.

    Mistake #7. Thriving on "Busy"

    Some people get a rush from being busy. The narrowly-met deadlines, the endless emails, the piles of files needing attention on the desk, the frantic race to the meeting... What an adrenaline buzz!

    The problem is that an "addiction to busyness" rarely means that you're effective, and it can lead to stress.

    Instead, try to slow down, and learn to manage your time better.

    Mistake #8. Multitasking

    To get on top of her workload, Linda regularly writes emails while she chats on the phone to her clients. However, while Linda thinks that this is a good use of her time, the truth is that it can take 20-40 percent more time to finish a list of jobs when you multitask, compared with completing the same list of tasks in sequence.

    Mistake #9. Not Taking Breaks

    It's nice to think that you can work for 8-10 hours straight, especially when you're working to a deadline. But it's impossible for anyone to focus and produce really high-quality work without giving their brains some time to rest and recharge.

    Mistake #10. Ineffectively Scheduling Tasks

    Are you a morning person? Or do you find your energy picking up once the sun begins to set in the evening? All of us have different rhythms, that is, different times of day when we feel most productive and energetic.


    Source, and to learn more about each tip:



    July 2011: Checklists for Precepting

    Greetings Commendable Colleagues,


    NOTE FROM STEVE:  Summer is a special time for medical educators…out with the newly minted and in with the uninitiated.  Speaking of the uninitiated – how prepared are you to take them on?  If you don’t already have a good plan here are few checklists to help.  These checklists have been from the precepting literature and compiled against the three main preceptor expectations: orientation, teaching and feedback.   I recommend you compare your practices to the items in the checklist and see if there is something you’d like to change for this coming crop.


    Thank you for your work in medical education!  Your efforts are magnified to infinity as you pour into the next generation of DOs!


    Orientation Recommendations


    Teaching Recommendations


    Feedback (the gift that keeps on giving) Recommendations


    Source, and to learn more about each tip:



    August 2011: Fighting for Feedback

    Greetings Practitioners,


    My son flies a USAF C17 (  We recently talked about his navigation system that gives feedback on direction and conditions which results in “spot on” landings at a designated location.  Where do you think he would land if the feedback wasn’t there?          Now, think of your teaching/precepting.  How much feedback do you get?  How do you know if your teaching/precepting is “spot on?”


    If you’re like most, we’re taught how to GIVE feedback but rarely, if ever, taught (or encouraged) on how to GET feedback?  Students evaluate you through electronic forms at the end of each quarter or rotation but you may never see those, or only see them once at the end of the year. 


    Bottom line, we must all take personal responsibility to “fight for feedback” with our charges so we can improve and they can benefit from it.



    1.      Plan the work:

    a.      See what’s on the Student Evaluation of Faculty ( & Preceptor (

    b.      Make your own form to ask what students appreciate and what’s missing

    c.       Use another tool such as “Stop, Start, Continue,” or “One Minute Summary” to solicit feedback (

    d.      Make it implicit through orientation that you will be “fighting for feedback” in an exit interview


    2.      Work the plan:

    a.      Schedule an “exit interview” where you will include feedback from the student to you/your practice

    b.      Review the feedback (with staff?) for the “golden nuggets” within

    c.       Make changes/adjustments based upon what you learned…complete the feedback loop


    Students (people in general) don’t care what you know till they know that you care.  “Fighting for feedback” is a great way to show you care.  Plan this work and work this plan to be the best teacher/preceptor ever!


    Let’s enter the new teaching season with some new tools for landing “spot on!”


    September 2011: Effective Clicker Questions

    Greetings Most Favored Constituents,


    Designing Effective Clicker Questions by Going Beyond Factual Recall


    At one point, a General Chemistry course at Penn State Berks had a success rate of about 50 percent, giving the multi-section course the dubious distinction of having one of the lowest GPAs on campus. After a thorough redesign, the course now consistently achieves a success rate of well over 70 percent, while the student ratings of the course and the instructors have never been higher. The key element in this chemistry course’s redesign? Clickers.


    As evidence of the importance of student engagement and active learning continues to grow, clickers have become a powerful tool for helping instructors adopt a more learner-centered teaching style.


    During the recent online seminar Using Clickers to Engage Students and Maximize Learning, Ike Shibley, an associate professor of chemistry at Penn State Berks, shared strategies for using clickers in the classroom and offered tips on how to write effective clicker questions.


    According to Shibley, while clickers can be used for simple tasks such as taking attendance and testing factual knowledge, by thinking about the types of interactions you want for your students – interactions with the content and each other – it’s easy to begin envisioning how clickers can help create a richer learning experience.


             Here are two different types of clicker questions Shibley uses to tap into higher levels of thinking:
    Problem-solving questions: Scaffold your questions to allow students to progress through the questions from simple to complex. However, Shibley cautions, don’t make the questions overly complex.

             Opinion questions: Assign a reading as homework and then ask students for their opinion on what they read. Getting anonymous feedback, particularly around a controversial topic, is a great way to kick start or guide discussions.


    “Some faculty use clickers for a few minutes of predominantly recall questions, and that’s a great start,” said Shibley. “But to really utilize clickers you’re going to want to spend 10-15 minutes of a 50-minute class where students have to do more than plug in an answer. You want to make it so they have to think awhile, figure something out, stimulate new thoughts.




    October 2011: Using Polling and Smartphones to Keep Students Engaged

    It’s an age-old problem. You want to make the most of every minute you have with your students, but it’s been proven that most people can only retain about 20 minutes of content in our short-term memory before we have to reflect on it in order to move it to our long-term memory or it will be lost. Add to this the violently condensed attention span of the general population and anyone hoping to provide a content-rich education in the time slots of traditional classes faces an uphill battle.


    Polling provides an ideal way to both keep a class’ attention and provide a reflective activity to move information into long-term memory. Plus, it’s remarkably easy. Free websites allow you to set up polls that students take by submitting their answers via text message or on the Web. These polls are a wonderful way to engage students in the material and keep their interest. Best of all, the results appear in real time so students can see changes as they come in.

    One good use of polls is to gather information about a subject before it is covered. This is especially helpful when the subject concerns information that students might not want to make public with a show of hands. For instance, a teacher could introduce a discussion of cheating on exams by asking students in a large lecture to indicate if they have every cheated on an exam. This could be used to demonstrate that cheating is more common than people think. A science instructor can ask students to guess the results of an experiment before it is conducted to generate thought and interest in the outcome. Forcing students to take a position not only creates reflection, but also commitment to results. Everyone wants their position affirmed.

    Another option is to ask students for their opinions and use the results as a way of initiating a discussion on the issue. Or you could ask a simple factual question that you know most people will get wrong in order to demonstrate a widespread misconception.

    Polls also can be used after content is presented as a means of generating reflection on the issue. These can be simple factual questions that demonstrate whether the students understood the material, or higher level questions that will help them to retain the material.

    Using smartphones to conduct polls
    While many instructors consider smartphones the bane of teaching—causing distraction and even cheating during a test—polling turns the technology into a teacher’s advantage by engaging students with the content.

    In this screencast, I demonstrate how easy it is to use polling software. Watch it here

    Source: By: John Orlando, PhD in Effective Teaching Strategies:


    November 2011: 6 Ways to Use Class Discussion to Promote Transformation

    Another important consideration for encouraging class discussion is how to handle the students who participate too much and the reflective or introverted students who are hesitant to add their voice to the conversation. In the case of the introverts, Torosyan will often send an email to them encouraging them to participate by reinforcing the value of what they've done in written assignments.  For the overparticipators, besides saying "What are others thinking?" or "Who we haven't heard from?" Torosyan will ask the class a question like, "What are you wondering or trying to understand better?" He says that often stumps the students who are used to performing by talking.



     NOTE from Steve: Literature indicates average question wait time is around 0.3 seconds.  Students learn instantly if you answer your own questions and then….they let you.  Also, always, always, always repeat the question – it clarifies and allows everyone to know what your answering. 


    Find more tips at your OU-COM & CORE faculty development web resources: or  
  • =====================================================

    December 2011: Use "Appropriate" Humor

    Here are a few guidelines for inclusive and respectful humor:

    Choose Positive Humor:  Laugh at yourself and your own personal foibles. Share funny stories about what happened to you or others – based on the comedy of the situation. Just make sure your jokes, stories, or e-mails don’t stereotype or demean individuals or groups based on who they are (e.g., their race, accent, or appearance).

    Cull Your Humor “File”:  Keep the funny, non-disparaging jokes, plays on words, cartoons, stories, and images. Pass these on. Delete the ones that demean or debase people.

    Apply the “Humor Test”:  Ask yourself: “Is it professional?” “Is it respectful?” “Does it avoid perpetuating stereotypes?” If all three answers are “yes,” then it’s probably a safe bet for the workplace.


    NOTE FROM STEVE1.  This assumes you have a “Humor File.”   If you don’t you may want to consider starting one.  2.  December issue of “FACULTY FOCUS” article on “Humor in the Classroom” concludes “…humor isn’t an essential feature of good teaching.”  “But there is a ‘substantial amount’ of evidence that shows the effectiveness of humor at attracting and maintaining students’ attention.”



    Find more tips at your OU-COM & CORE faculty development web resources: or  


    January 2012: Social media in classroom

    ‘Here We Are Now, Entertain Us’ — Student Motivation and Technology

    George Stanton, a professor emeritus of biology, recently expressed his disappointment with student response to social media elements in classes. He pointed out that students were less than active in using the tools, meanwhile a recent survey of first-year students at his institution found that the number one expectation for class was “to be entertained.”

    I’ve found that social media projects do not always generate the kind of enthusiasm that I had hoped for in my classes. This might be partly due to the passive mentality ingrained into the educational experience. Students have been conditioned by years of schooling to be quiet and attentive in a classroom, and are scolded if they talk to one another. We would like to think that social media will immediately overcome this conditioning, but that’s not always the case. It can take time and effort to turn around this expectation.

    Social media needs to be introduced within a context that will invite participation. While I don’t have a magic formula for generating participation, I do have some observations on what can help:

    Social media can be a wonderful way to generate student engagement in learning, but still must be introduced in a way that will excite students to participate.

    Michael Wesch’s great discussion of today’s students and how they collaborate in social media settings:

    Source: John Orlando, PhD, program director for the online Master of Science in Business Continuity Management and Master of Science in Information Assurance programs at Norwich University. Faculty Focus, 26 Jan 2011;



    February 2012: Student Self-Assessment: A Sample Assignment

    For me examples are like pictures; worth a 1,000 words. In last week's post I wrote about the need to intervene in the development of student self-assessment skills, leaving the process less to chance and making it more the result of purposeful intervention. At a recent Teaching Professor Workshop, I saw an assignment that illustrates that kind of intervention. It was from a 100-level, Introduction to U.S. Government course, but is adaptable to any course. The assignment has two parts and they are the first and last pieces of work students complete in the course.

    First Assignment: Personal Goals Statement
    Prepare a paper (at least 750 words) that identifies your personal goals for this course. This statement should be specific and detailed. The paper should also contain a description of how you plan to meet your goals. If it helps, you are welcome to set weekly goals and a time schedule. You should do whatever will help you think through why you are taking this particular course and how it fits in with your overall learning goals.

    Last Assignment: What Have You Learned from the Class?
    Write a self-evaluation paper (at least 750 words) in which you analyze how well you met your personal goals for the course. If your goals changed, discuss how and if unforeseen goals emerged, describe what they were. Conclude the paper by assigning yourself an overall-grade based on your performance in the course. That grade will constitute 10 of the 30 points available for this assignment.

    Source: By Maryellen Weimer, PhD

    NOTE FROM STEVE: As medical educators we’re interested in building new neural connections and reinforcing them for long term recall.  Reflection, goal setting, and writing are all powerful tools to achieve that.  It’s also helpful to us as we plan activities…identify the goals (objectives), think through your action plan (teaching/facilitating), and then evaluate how it went and if you achieved what you’d planned – good habit for life!


    Find more tips at your OU-COM & CORE faculty development web resources:  or  


    March 2012: How to Give Feedback


    Feedback is an ongoing process that occurs throughout the student's time with you. The "IMPROVE" strategy (see Table 1) can help you set expectations with your student, assess the student's performance, and provide information to the student in a manner that encourages improvement.


    Table 1 : IMPROVE Model


    Identify rotation objectives with the student


    Make a feedback friendly environment


    assess Performance Prioritize the feedback you provide


    Respond to the student's self-assessment


    be Objective: report specific behaviors observed; describe potental outcomes of behavior


    Validate what the student has done well or suggest alternative strategies


    Establish a plan to implement changes (if needed) Have the student summarize feedback and the plan




    Here are a few additional things to do to present feedback to your students in a positive manner:


    NOTE FROM STEVE: Feedback is the gift that keeps on giving…IF it is given and received in a manner that says “I’m giving you this because I want you to be the best!”  There are many ways to communicate this but one obvious way is to have and show them a PLAN or MODEL of how it will happen.  Data from evaluations clearly indicate the highest ranked preceptors do this.  If you don’t have a system/model I highly recommend you give this or some other model a try.  Also: see the checklist of feedback recommendations posted on our faculty development website at (The Effective Preceptor: Checklists for 1) Orientation; 2) Teaching; 3) Feedback).


    April 2012: Should Professors Use Facebook to Communicate with Students? One Opinion.

    Nearly 85% of faculty have a Facebook account, two-thirds are on LinkedIn, and 50% are on Twitter according to research from Faculty Focus. But, professors' use of social media shows we are behind the relationship curve when it comes to connecting with students. Only 32% have friended undergrad students and about half (55%) connect with some students after graduation.

    Some faculty may be hesitant to friend students on Facebook. To do so on an isolated basis can send the wrong signals, and I know some faculty prefer to keep a clear line between the role of teacher and student. So, why might instructors want to connect with current students on Facebook?

    First, it's where students are. With the help of the students in our upper level marketing courses, we recently surveyed over 500 students regarding their social media use. Over two-thirds (69.8%) are on Facebook every day. In case you're wondering, 63% also have Twitter accounts and half (49.8%) check them daily. As teachers, our job is to communicate with students. Sure, we can communicate with them in other ways. But, if you want to speak to your audience in the way they prefer and in the way they communicate with each other, you'll connect through social media. That's what I do and I learn a lot from my students that way as they often post industry-related articles on Twitter or Facebook to my attention.

    Second, anyone who studies marketing knows that social influence is a primary factor in consumer decision making. If you want to influence others in any meaningful way, you must provide value within their social circles. Granted, the kind of value faculty may offer students via social media is questionable. Even if we think we are cool, odds are pretty high we are not. But, students don't expect us to be cool. They know we are their instructors, not their peers. That means their expectations are pretty low. That said, what makes a good friend is often just being there. If you're not there and not aware of what's going on in their lives, you will have a harder time relating to them.


    Third, you can overcome sending the wrong signals to students by inviting all students in your classes to friend you on Facebook. They are smart enough to know they can do so and still screen who sees what on their posts. So, no need to worry that they will be afraid you'll get too close to them. By the same token, you can designate students into specific friends lists that you can choose when you want to post to them or not. If you don't know how, just ask a student.


    I can see how instructors in large, survey courses with perhaps hundreds of students wouldn't want to follow this advice. I wouldn't either. But, most of us teaching in upper-level courses have students in a dedicated major with relatively high overlap with our interests. Faculty already on Facebook tend to post comments, articles, and highlights related to the discipline and that provides an instant connection with our students. This leads to the next reason to connect with students through social media.


    Fourth, the number one best way I've found to keep track of our graduates is through our Facebook group page for our major. We can post job openings, graduate news (like congrats on new positions), and activities within the major all in one place. A huge plus is that current students can connect with grads from prior years in the Facebook group for networking purposes.


    I'm sure you can still be an effective teacher without connecting with students on Facebook. I can also understand why some of my colleagues may not want to engage with students on social platforms. But, if you're looking for a way to communicate with them the way they communicate, learn something about what's going on in their lives, and to stay connected after they graduate, then inviting the class to join you on Facebook is a good start.


    Kirk Wakefield, Edwin W. Streetman professor of retail marketing, Hankamer School of Business, Baylor University.

    SOURCE: Feb 27, 2012


    NOTE FROM STEVE: As medical educators the onus is upon us to identify the assets and liabilities of any type of communication for learning and then try our best to establish practices that maximize the assets and minimize the liabilities.  These technologies are just tools, and if used wisely can become a valuable part of the learning process for many.  Ultimately, though, each of us must evaluate and decide what is good, better, best – and then go for “best.”

    Find more tips at your OU-HCOM & CORE faculty development web resources:  or


    May 2012: Get a coach!

    California researchers in the early nineteen-eighties conducted a five-year study of teacher-skill development in eighty schools, and noticed something interesting. Workshops led teachers to use new skills in the classroom only ten per cent of the time. Even when a practice session with demonstrations and personal feedback was added, fewer than twenty per cent made the change. But when coaching was introduced—when a colleague watched them try the new skills in their own classroom and provided suggestions—adoption rates passed ninety per cent. A spate of small randomized trials confirmed the effect. Coached teachers were more effective, and their students did better on tests


    Expertise, as the formula goes, requires going from unconscious incompetence to conscious incompetence to conscious competence and finally to unconscious competence. The coach provides the outside eyes and ears, and makes you aware of where you’re falling short. This is tricky. Human beings resist exposure and critique; our brains are well defended. So coaches use a variety of approaches—showing what other, respected colleagues do, for instance, or reviewing videos of the subject’s performance. The most common, however, is just conversation.


    The greatest difficulty, though, may simply be a profession’s willingness to accept the idea. The prospect of coaching forces EXPOSURE…the price of effective feedback!


    I knew that he could drive me to make smarter decisions, but that afternoon I recognized the price: exposure.


    NOTE FROM STEVE: This applies to teaching, precepting, sports… almost everything we do, either at work, as a hobby, or at home can be improved with a coach.  I’ve seen some very dramatic, life changing improvements in friends of mine who’ve overtly employed a coach for the purpose of working toward mastery of some skill.  Most of you probably have “great coach” stories.  Think about how this might help you in various areas of your life and do yourself a favor – get a coach!  


    June 2012: Teaching with Technology

    Take a moment to view the latest “Faculty Focus” on Teaching with Technology

    Statement of the Challenge: Our school and students are rapidly moving away from paper-based products and using computers and other electronic devices to accomplish their work. This growing electronic technology pervasiveness in the small group setting requires us to think critically about its impact on small group work. Therefore, by explicitly stating the primary purposes of the small group-learning format, and outlining the major assets and liabilities/challenges of this emerging development, we have developed some “rules of engagement” for consideration by your group.

    ( )


    NOTE FROM STEVE: This method can be used equally as well for small or large classrooms.  Set aside some time at the beginning of a term and do the same exercise with the students so the issue is “on the table” and expectations are agreed upon and set.  Don’t forget to include a feedback mechanism and consequences in the ground rules.  Remember, these are tools, albeit with many possibilities, that need to be exploited for their potential to help students learn and controlled because of their potential to hinder learning.  It’s up to us!

    Find more tips at your OU-HCOM & CORE faculty development web resources:  or  


    July 2012: Students Share Their Thoughts on Active Learning

    By Mary Bart

    "Learning is not a spectator sport. Students do not learn much just by sitting in class listening to teachers, memorizing prepackaged assignments, and spitting out answers. They must talk about what they are learning, write about it, relate it to past experiences, apply it to their daily lives. They must make what they learn part of themselves."
    —A. Chickering and Z.F. Gamson, "Seven principles for good practice," AAHE Bulletin 39 (March 1987), 3-7.

    Active learning, a learner-centered approach to teaching in which the responsibility for learning is placed upon the students (often working in collaboration with each other), is not new. Yet there are still many faculty who lecture almost exclusively and are convinced that active learning activities won't work in their courses.

    Some of the most frequently cited concerns about learning activities include that they take up too much class time, make it more difficult to control the class, work only in small classes, take too much time to design, and are difficult to grade.

    Supporters of learner-centered teaching may counter those objections by citing a growing volume of research that supports active learning techniques. Or they may just have their students share their perspectives on active learning and what makes a learning activity effective for them.

    In the online seminar Active Learning That Works: What Students Think presenter Ken Alford, Ph.D. took the latter approach. Using video clips from about a dozen students from across a variety of disciplines, the associate professor at Brigham Young University allowed students to share their thoughts on active learning—what they like and why they like it. Their comments, summarized here, cover a wide spectrum, including the benefits of learning activities to:

    Of course being a learner-centered teacher doesn't mean you never lecture. Active learning and lecture are not mutually exclusive. They can, and often are, used together in the same class session.

    "It's very easy to overpopulate your class with learning activities," said Alford. "Learning activities should be the seasoning and not the main course. Look for opportunities in the class; normally they will stand out—"key concepts, important transitional lessons, or a summation. View things from a student perspective. When do they really need to internalize a concept? Those kinds of places set themselves up for learning activities."

    View a brief clip from the seminar:


    NOTE FROM STEVE: John Medina, in his book “Brain Rules,” states, “Audiences check out after 10 minutes, but you can keep grabbing them back by telling narratives or creating events rich in emotion.”   Try inserting something “engaging” every 10 minutes…I recommend reviewing Angelo and Cross’s “Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs)” and/or Elizabeth Barkley’s “Student Engagement Techniques (SETs).”  I also recommend Wilbert McKeachie’s “McKeachie’s Teaching Tips.”  The former two contain 50 easy to use and well explained techniques each with examples, each technique is only three or four pages to digest.  The latter is filled with hundreds of short and to the point tips on everything from lecturing to grading.


    August 2012: 25 Apps for Osteopathic Medical Educators


    Greetings Medical Educator


    Better late than never…passing along a resource obtained at the last AOA-OME conference (compliments of Dr. Wayne Carlsen, our Assistant Dean for Clinical Education).


    Most of the apps are free or $1-$3.  I’ve put them up on the faculty development website at:



    September 2012: WINNING Instructional Strategies

    Greetings Med Ed’ers!


    Studies of learning have demonstrated that only about 7% of information recall is dependent upon the actual content, and 93% of recall relates to how the content was presented.  Accordingly, instructional strategies are most effective when they involve the learner.  Since so much of what is effectively acquired and retained by the learner depends upon how it was presented, principles of oral communication should be followed closely, especially when using the lecture and small group discussion formats.


    The mood for learning can be set by:

    1) approaching the class with real excitement and enthusiasm,
    2) adding vocal variety for interest and clarity,
    3) including purposeful pauses (that’d be silence…not ums, ahs, you knows, like, etc.)
    4) maintaining effective eye contact with each learner throughout the presentation,
    5) showing a desire to communicate without over-dependence on notes,
    6) actively involving the learner and,
    7) ending using a strong conclusion with vitality.


    Learner-centered teachers humble themselves before their students and unpretentiously perform the highest form of teaching.  They use instructional strategies to serve and uplift, not to control or manipulate.  They engage the learner in a mutual obligation to learn and they worry less about being seen as “experts” or “authorities.”  Learner-centered teachers place learners in control of their own learning, serving as facilitators of the instructional session.  As academic pride is stripped away, such teachers humbly influence students’ lives for good and become master teachers.



    NOTE FROM STEVE:  Rate yourself on this checklist.  Identify an area of personal improvement from your ratings.  Periodically check with your students by allowing them to rate you.  Quest for best is never ending!!

  • October 2012: Five Characteristics of Learner-Centered Teaching

    Proposed five characteristics of teaching that make it learner-centered.

    1. Learner-centered teaching engages students in the hard, messy work of learning. I believe teachers are doing too many learning tasks for students. We ask the questions, we call on students, we add detail to their answers. We offer the examples. We organize the content. We do the preview and the review. On any given day, in most classes teachers are working much harder than students. I'm not suggesting we never do these tasks, but I don't think students develop sophisticated learning skills without the chance to practice and in most classrooms the teacher gets far more practice than the students.

    2. Learner-centered teaching includes explicit skill instruction. Learner-centered teachers teach students how to think, solve problems, evaluate evidence, analyze arguments, generate hypotheses—all those learning skills essential to mastering material in the discipline. They do not assume that students pick up these skills on their own, automatically. A few students do, but they tend to be the students most like us and most students aren't that way. Research consistently confirms that learning skills develop faster if they are taught explicitly along with the content.

    3. Learner-centered teaching encourages students to reflect on what they are learning and how they are learning it. Learner-centered teachers talk about learning. In casual conversations, they ask students what and how they are learning.  In class they may talk about their own learning. They challenge student assumptions about learning and encourage them to accept responsibility for decisions they make about learning; like how they study for exams, when they do assigned reading, whether they revise their writing or check their answers.  Learner-centered teachers include assignment components in which students reflect, analyze and critique what they are learning and how they are learning it.  The goal is to make students aware of themselves as learners and to make learning skills something students want to develop.

    4. Learner-centered teaching motivates students by giving them some control over learning processes.  I believe teachers make too many of the decisions about learning for students.  Teachers decide what students should learn, how they learn it, the pace at which they learn, the conditions under which they learn and then teachers determine whether students have learned.  Students aren't in a position to decide what content should be included in the course or which textbook is best, but when teachers make all the decisions, the motivation to learn decreases and learners become dependent.  Learner-centered teachers search out ethically responsible ways to share power with students.  They might give students some choice about which assignments they complete.  They might make classroom policies something students can discuss.  They might let students set assignment deadlines within a given time window.  They might ask students to help create assessment criteria.

    5. Learner-centered teaching encourages collaboration. It sees classrooms (online or face-to-face) as communities of learners.  Learner-centered teachers recognize, and research consistently confirms, that students can learn from and with each other.  Certainly the teacher has the expertise and an obligation to share it, but teachers can learn from students as well.  Learner-centered teachers work to develop structures that promote shared commitments to learning.  They see learning individually and collectively as the most important goal of any educational experience.

    By Maryellen Weimer, PhD


    NOTE FROM STEVE:  Education happens in the brain.  Science is making great progress helping us understand how the brain works. Learner-centered teaching is a way to help the brain learn use its incredible capacity to build lasting neural networks.  In place of a future lecture, provide a resource and have students answer some basic questions before class.  Then use class time for discussion of the questions allowing other students to fill in some of the blanks (with your expert oversight, of course).   Experiment with learner-centered approaches. 


    Two fabulous resources are: “Classroom Assessment Techniques,” by Angelo & Cross and “Student Engagement Techniques,” by Elizabeth Barkley – over 100 techniques with step-by-step instructions and examples. 



    November 2012: Choosing Instructional Strategies in Medicine

    Greetings MedEder,


    Two common instructional strategies have been described as the “bucket technique” and the “SOCO” method.


    Bucket Model: The “bucket technique” is still commonly used in medical education and comes with the assumption that medical school faculty are “all knowing” and that medical student or resident minds are like empty buckets.  The goal of the instructional session is to fill the empty learner “buckets” with knowledge or “pearls of wisdom” from the faculty.


             Major Set-back of Bucket Model: The problem with this method is that it is teacher-focused, not learner-focused and most often it is associated with the lecture format without clearly defined,  learner-centered instructional objectives.  The learner then is expected to regurgitate all the knowledge in some useful order.  Since the knowledge is rarely learned around patient presentations, recall is difficult when needed in the clinical setting as it has been memorized as a list of facts.


    SOCO Model: The Single Overriding Communicating Objective  method more effectively promotes learning, retention, and application of information to new situations.  A brief teaching session, such as at the bedside,  might have only one single overriding communication objective (SOCO).  A longer session, such as a class or Grand Rounds presentation, may have three or four SOCO’s.  Such objectives should be learner-centered, measurable, and appropriate for the level of the medical student or resident.  There may also be “enabling objectives” that must be met before the learner will be able to successfully meet each single overriding communicating objective.


    Instructional strategies are most effective when they involve the learner.  Since so much of what is effectively acquired and retained by the learner depends upon how it was presented, principles of oral communication should be followed closely, especially when using the lecture and small group discussion formats. The mood for learning can be set by:


    1) approaching the class with real excitement and enthusiasm,
    2) adding vocal variety for interest and clarity,
    3) including purposeful pauses,
    4) maintaining effective eye contact with each learner throughout the presentation,
    5) showing a desire to communicate without over-dependence on notes,
    6) actively involving the learner and,
    7) ending using a strong conclusion with vitality.


    Instructional Strategy and Teaching Steps 

    Utilizing the “events of instruction” or teaching steps gives the mentor or teacher an organized instructional strategy for optimally transmitting knowledge and assessing competency.


    Recall Gagne’s Nine Events of Instruction

    Description: Healthcare Instructional Strategy



    NOTE FROM STEVE:  Test your teaching against the “events of instruction” above.  Try outlining your next teaching encounter based upon them.  Communicate this to the learner/s…they will be thankful and remember your teaching, plus they will learn how to teach others.  It’s a win-win! 


    December 2012: Five Competencies for Culturally Competent Teaching and Learning

    Greetings Holiday Helpers,

    Educators should all possess competencies for teaching all students…an instructor who is sensitive and responsive to the unique differences of each student.

    1. Culturally competent teaching and learning facilitates critical reflection. A critical analysis of one's own cultural assumptions is foundational to culturally-responsive teaching and learning. Critical reflection on tightly held cultural assumptions is necessary to dislodge misconceptions and stereotypes. Culturally-responsive teaching engages students in self-awareness activities that lead to reflection on cultural assumptions.

    2. Culturally competent teaching and learning demands respect for others. Every student possesses a unique cultural background.. Culturally responsive methods such as inter-cultural communication stimulate respect for the needs of all learners and allow every voice to be heard.

    3. Culturally competent teaching and learning involves accommodating individual learners.   In addition to pedagogical and subject matter knowledge, competent instructors relate well to their students and possess dispositions such as compassion, fairness, integrity and respect for diversity. Good teachers not only learn from, but learn about their students.


    4. Culturally competent teaching and learning requires the use of intercultural communication skills.  Culturally competent instructors recognize the potential of intercultural communication as a means for enhancing the learning of the entire learning community. Effective communication with others who are linguistically and culturally different includes the use of techniques like active listening, elaboration, paraphrasing, and restatement.

    5. Culturally competent teaching and learning requires focused activities and intentionally structured environments. Perspective-taking behavior requires an understanding of norms, values, and traditions that have informed the other's worldview and learning behaviors.

    Reference: Chang, M. (1996). Racial Diversity in Higher Education: Does a Racially Mixed Student Population Affect Educational Outcomes? (unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of California, Los Angeles).


    “Cultural and linguistic competence is a set of congruent behaviors, knowledge, attitudes, and policies that come together in a system, organization, or among professionals that enables effective work in cross-cultural situations.  ‘Culture’ refers to integrated patterns of human behavior that include the language, thoughts, actions, customs, beliefs, and institutions of racial, ethnic, social, or religious groups.  ‘Competence’ implies having the capacity to function effectively as an individual or an organization within the context of the cultural beliefs, practices, and needs presented by patients and their communities.” 


    NOTE FROM STEVE:   Want to self-assess your cultural competence?  Try our CC “Values and Belief Systems” survey at Cultural Competence (CC)  and see if there are areas of improvement needed in your CC understand and behaviors.  If nothing else, this survey surely gives you some things to think about when interacting with members of a different culture.



    January 2013: Three Ways to Ask Better Questions in the Classroom

    Good questions make students think, they encourage participation and I think they improve the caliber of the answers students give and the questions they ask. …three actions that have the potential to improve our questioning:

    1. Prepare QuestionsGo to class with some prepared questions.  When you write out a question, you can make it clearer ... not just the wording, but clearer conceptually.  Is it the question that needs to be asked? When is the best time to ask it?  …if you try it, you'll be persuaded.

    2. Play with QuestionsQuestions are most powerful, when they best engage students, and when they are at their thought provoking best.  It's in that space between the question and the answer.  As soon as the question is answered, it loses most of its power to engage students.  

    Playing with the question means leaving it unanswered for a while and using some strategies that encourage students to think about it.  The question might appear on a PowerPoint slide or written on the board.  Students might be encouraged to write the question in their notes.  They might be given a bit of time to write some ideas or discuss potential responses with another student.  The teacher might collect several different answers, discussing their various merits and detriments before designating a right one.  Maybe the question appears at the beginning of the period but isn't answered until the session is almost over.  Maybe an answered question returns on a subsequent day when more information and greater understanding enables a better answer.

    3. Preserve Good QuestionsGood questions can be kept. They can be asked in a subsequent class, perhaps revised or refocused so that they accomplish the good question goals even more effectively.  Sometimes I jotted a few notes about the answers students offered and discovered that helped me revise the question and content surrounding it.

    Occasionally a student asks a really good question and there are reasons to save those as well.  When you solicit questions and there aren't any, but you think there should be, you might be able to start the process this way, "While you are thinking of questions, let me share one a student in a previous class asked about this."  The teacher I first saw doing this also oohed and ahhed a bit about the question and using student questions this way demonstrated how he remembered and valued what students ask.

    We should be working on our questioning techniques, but not just because our questions are more effective when skillfully used.  We need to ask good questions so that students see the importance of questions — how they make us think and help us learn. Eventually students may start asking better questions themselves, including ones we can't answer.  And those are the best questions of all.

    Found at: FACULTY FOCUS; ,
    By Maryellen Weimer, PhD

    Reference: Welty, W. M. "Discussion Method Teaching: How to Make it Work." Change, July-August 1989, pp. 40-49. 


    NOTE FROM STEVE:   There is a nice resource on your FD Website outlining the basics of Socratic Questioning:   Question asking is a critical (perhaps the most critical) educational art that improves with practice. 


    February  2013: The APP Of The WEEK

    Winter Greetings Great Constituency!

    The "App Of The Week" is a new feature of Faculty Focus written by Dave Yearwood, PhD, associate professor and chair of the technology department at the University of North Dakota.  Dave is an avid collector of apps and is always on the lookout for new ones that can improve student learning or simply make academic life more organized, productive and fun.  Through this column, he’ll provide tips for getting started, app reviews, best practices, sneak peeks, and more. Guest contributors will provide reviews as well. 

    Here is this week’s entry: Using Goodreader to Keep Journal Articles Organized, Aid Research

     By: Jonathan Messer in App Of The Week

    In preparing for my own dissertation research, I began getting electronic copies of journal articles so that I would not be burdened with lots of paper copies and for better file organization. I also did not want to read the copies while sitting at my computer but to use my iPad instead. While reading any journal article there is a need to markup the copy with personal notes, highlights, underlines, and other helpful markings so I needed a program that would allow me to do that on my mobile device.

    Read More


    NOTE FROM STEVE:   The “APP Of The Week” is a great RSS feed from Faculty Focus that will bring the latest educational APP right to your inbox for review.  Go to the site to sign up and happy “APPing!”


    If you’d like to explore additional resources or go peruse our OU-HCOM Faculty Development Web site ( and let me know how to improve it.


    Celebrate, another day of livin! (Rare Earth, 1971) ssd


    March  2013: Crib Sheets

    Crib Sheets Help Students Prioritize and Organize Course Content 


    Most faculty are familiar with the strategy: students are allowed to produce a note card that contains information they think might help them answer exam questions.  I became convinced of the strategy's value when my husband was an undergraduate.  He and his engineering study buddies convened at our place the night before an exam to decide what they should put on the 4 x 6 note card they were allowed to take into a mechanical engineering course. They spent hours in heated discussion. They thought they were just figuring out what went on the card, but in fact they were sorting out, prioritizing, organizing, and integrating the content of the course. Their discussion accomplished way more than any review session I had conducted.

    Preparing crib sheets might be an excellent activity for an in-class review session (Steve’s note: or a review of some system, schema, disease state, pharmacology puzzle, EBM or System Based questions, etc.).

    Students learn when creating crib sheets!

    NOTE FROM STEVE:   Students fire and connect the neurons you need them to when asked to do a crib sheet.  Humans brains learn to the degree they make and reinforce those neural connections.  Give it a try in your educational practice and then check with the students to gage its affect.

    Source:  by Maryellen Weimer, PhD in Teaching Professor Blog:


    If you’d like to explore additional resources or go peruse our OU-HCOM Faculty Development Web site ( and let me know how to improve it.


    Welcome SRING 2013!  ssd


    April  2013: Preparing To Teach at a Distance

    Steve’s Note: The following is intended to help us begin to think about our “new reality” of teaching simultaneous and synchronous live AND distant students starting Fall 2014.  I’ve cherry picked from an article by Barry Willis from the University of Idaho who has written two books, “Distance Education – Strategies and Tools” and “Distance Education – A Practical Guide. 
    For those of you who receive this who are not on our faculty, this pertains to much of what is happening in education and is worth a read and discussion with colleagues.  Print this out, discuss it at faculty meetings and determine at least one thing you will do as result of this information. 


    What's Different About Distant Teaching?

    Classroom teachers rely on a number of visual and unobtrusive cues from their students to enhance their delivery of instructional content. A quick glance, for example, reveals who is attentively taking notes, pondering a difficult concept, or preparing to make a comment. The student who is frustrated, confused, tired, or bored is equally evident. The attentive teacher consciously and subconsciously receives and analyzes these visual cues and adjusts the course delivery to meet the needs of the class during a particular lesson.


     In contrast, the distant teacher has few, if any, visual cues. Those cues that do exist are filtered through technological devices such as video monitors. It is difficult to carry on a stimulating teacher-class discussion when spontaneity is altered by technical requirements and distance.


    Without the use of a real-time visual medium such as television, the teacher receives no visual information from the distant sites. The teacher might never really know, for example, if students are asleep, talking among themselves or even in the room. Separation by distance also affects the general rapport of the class. Living in different communities, geographic regions, or even states deprives the teacher and students of a common community link.


    Improving Planning and Organization

    In developing or adapting distance instruction, the core content remains basically unchanged, although its presentation requires new strategies and additional preparation time. Suggestions for planning and organizing a distance delivered course include:


    Meeting Student Needs

    To function effectively, students must quickly become comfortable with the nature of teaching and learning at a distance. Efforts should be made for meeting students' needs:


    Use Effective Teaching Skills

    For the most part, effective distance teaching requires the enhancement of existing skills, rather than developing new abilities. Pay special attention to the following:


    Improving Interaction and Feedback

    To improve interaction and feedback, consider the following:


    To explore additional faculty development resources see our OU-HCOM Faculty Development Web site at (  Please let me know how to improve it.


    Only constant is change!  ssd


    May  2013:  Professional Faculty Development: The Necessary Fourth Leg

    Greetings Premier Medical Educators!

    The well-known three-legged stool of academic life—teaching, research, and service—has been assumed to cover the main responsibilities of faculty in academic communities.  But the missing leg is professional faculty development. Every faculty member should be committed improving their students learning through their teaching excellence!


    Some reasons why professional faculty development plays a critical role in the ongoing growth of teachers:   Professional Faculty Development…

             promotes faculty responsibility for continuous, career-long growth based upon trial & error, theory, research, and professional collaboration

             deepens understanding of instructional concepts and teaching processes

             is an action, process, and way of thinking and as such it constitutes serious, complex intellectual work requiring regular reflection and exposure to new ideas and information

             connects faculty across disciplines and career stages

             is not remedial or something only for those having problems, but should be an integral part of every faculty member’s efforts to become more effective

             plays a central role in faculty motivation and vitality across their careers

             provides opportunities to learn and use beneficial, innovative pedagogical approaches

             activities should be an expectation for all teachers

             is the conscience of the professional academic. It makes teachers aware of what they do, asks them why, and challenges them to continually do it better

             strengthens the affective, intellectual, and social aspects of academic life. It improves the academic experience at institutions for teachers and students

             does so much more – none of which happens without it

    Source: Adapted from: by Dr. Alen Altany, Director of the Center for Teaching, Learning and Scholarship at Georgia Southern University


    Steve’s Note: Take action!!!  FOR THOSE OF YOU AT OUHCOM AND THE CORE:  Your Office of Faculty Development provides “Individual Professional Development Plan (IPDP)” opportunities.  If you’re at HCOM in Athens you can start your IPDP by filling out and submitting the online “Faculty Questionnaire” at  If you’re in the CORE you can start your IPDP by filling out the “CORE Faculty Development Self-Assessment Instrument” at
     Once submitted, you’ll get specific resource recommendations to help you work toward mastery in your areas of interest.  You control the timing, the topic, and the tempo – we’ll provide the resources.  Only do this is you want to improve.
    FOR MY FRIENDS AND COLLEAGUES WHO ARE NOT AT OUHCOM AND/OR THE CORE: Contact your Office of Faculty Development and get a “leg up” on this vital aspect of your academic life.
     Regards, and thank you for your work in medical education!!  ssd


    June  2013: Learner-Centered Teaching: Good Places to Begin

    Greetings Med Ed Connoisseur,

    …here's some general recommendations: start slowly (for example, don't add 14 learner-centered strategies to a mostly lecture course); try simple, reasonably straightforward activities first; and define success before implementing the activity.  As for those "good places" to begin, try:

    The Learning Question — If you want students to be more focused on learning, then you need to start asking them questions about their learning: "What are you learning ...?"   

    "What have you been learning in biology this week?"  

    "What did you learn for the test that you'll still remember when I see you next semester?" and

    "What did you learn about test preparation that you need to remember?"

    The Exam Review Session — Teachers don't need to review the material; students do!  So, plan a review session in which students are doing the reviewing.  Have them work individually or in groups to answer the ultimate review session question: "What's going to be on the exam?"  Assign students to prepare the study guides on the reading material or task them with generating possible test questions that are then completed by others in the class.  In other words, students should be working way harder than the teacher during the review session.

    Before and After Class Previews and Reviews —  Here are a few ideas for facilitating that kind of learning:

    1) Ask students to review notes with another person at the beginning or end of class and identify three important points.  

    2) Assign three students to tweet a summary of the day's lesson.

    3) Give students bonus points, brownie points, or a high five from the class if they offer a minute review of essential content.

    Assignment Options — Take an assignment and redesign it so that it includes several (not too many) options;  perhaps different topic choices or different format possibilities.  Let students choose how they will complete the assignment but not without justifying their choice in terms of how it relates to them as learners.  Or, let students determine the relative weight of two assignments with specified ranges.  Quizzes may count 10, 15, or 20 percent of the amount of the final grade determined by quiz and exam scores.  Maybe you could have participation count for a variable amount.  When students make these choices, they should confront and explain the reason why.  Why would you want quizzes to count more or less?

    Five features that make teaching learner-centered: It is teaching that:

    1) engages students in the hard, messy work of learning;

    2) includes explicit skill instruction;

    3) encourages students to reflect on what and how they are learning;

    4) motivates students by giving them some control over learning processes; and

    5) encourages students and teachers to learn from and with each other.

    These activities are first steps that move teaching and learning in these directions and are part of a longer list that appears in the recently released second edition of my Learner-Centered Teaching book (pp. 234-235) available from Jossey-Bass.


    By Maryellen Weimer, PhD


     Steve’s Note: Two of my favorite resources for “leaner-centered teaching” are Angelo & Cross’s “Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs) and their contemporary Elizabeth Barkley’s “Student Engagement Techniques (SETs).  Each have 50 succinct techniques with step-by-step explanations, examples, strengths and weaknesses.  They are a gold mine of engaged learning activities!
     Best regards, and welcome to SUMMER this month – joy in the journey!!  ssd


    July 2013: Student Comments: Moving from Participation to Contribution

    Greetings Med Ed’r,

    "Participation connotes involvement, sharing and simply taking part…" Contribution, on the other hand, implies much more, including "…intellectual involvement and sharing of knowledge and knowledge construction." (p. 16) "Concentrating on contribution causes people to think about what they are going to say, instead of simply blurting out ill-considered opinions, superficial observation, and irrelevant personal examples." (p. 16) And haven't we all heard some of those types of comments in our classes?

    So how do we encourage students to go beyond participation and make contributions to class discussions?  Starts with a list that describes what students do when they make a contribution:

    1. provide recapitulations and summaries;
    2. make observations that integrate concepts and discussions;
    3. cite relevant personal examples;
    4. ask key questions that lead to revealing discussions;
    5. engage in devil's advocacy; and
    6. disagree with the instructor in ways that promote further exploration of the issue. (p. 17)

    Recommend the instructor's "agenda" for the day shouldn't take up more than 50 percent of the period.  Students are responsible for generating and sustaining the rest of the class discussion and no, they don't get out early if they fail to do so.

    Encourage contributions with "think breaks."  Short periods of silence during which students "think through a comment just made to see if it makes sense or constitutes a worthwhile observation." (p. 18)  

    Encouraging contributions is harder than getting students to talk.  It requires that teachers move among a constellation of roles: facilitator, coach, cheerleader, iconoclast, questioner, integrator, supporter, referee, Socratic muser, occasional anarchist, and feigned dunce (p. 19)  That's quite a list, but then good discussion requires sophisticated leadership.

    Other good strategies that encourage participation: persistent patience, wait time, the three-hand rule (don't call on anyone until there are at least three hands up), think-pair-share before participating, and giving time to jot notes on a possible answer, for example.  If we are getting good participation, it's time to start working on raising the caliber of what students say, so that in addition to participation we are hearing contributions that promote understanding, develop knowledge, and result in discussions where student voices dominate.

    By Maryellen Weimer, PhD

    Reference: Gioia, D. A. (1987). Contribution! Not participation in the OB classroom. Journal of Management Education, 11, 15-19.

    Steve’s Note: Another strategy I’ve read about that I think is worthy of exploration is having the students write an exam question.  It fires their neurons on your topic, leads them to identify good distractors (what it’s not) and might help you write your quiz or exam.  How motivating would that be to have your question show up in the quiz or exam? 
    Joy in the journey as you experience SUMMER!!  ssd


    August  2013: What Students Appreciate in a Teacher

    Greetings “Teacher - in the Parker Palmer “Courage to Teach” sense,

    See the results of the study below and look at my poster on Successful Teaching Principles -

    Let me point out in both, ORGANIZATION is probably the single greatest gift you can give to your students.  Our brains expend most of its energy organizing.  You can greatly enhance any experience by being clear about expectations (up front), ensuring they have what’s needed to learn, and providing appropriate feedback.

    STORY: Every Christmas my mom pulled out a card table and put a 1500 piece puzzle on it for us to sit around and work on…BUT, she wouldn’t let us see the puzzle box top picture.  Of course this made it 10x harder and also kept us at the table talking longer.  However, you get the point, show “them” the puzzle box top!  Don’t make it 10x harder for their brains to figure out what you’re trying to get them to learn.

    Finally, use the “Successful Teaching Principles” poster to self-assess, plan, and then execute a personal application.  We all have areas we can improve on and this exercise will be a great step toward that end.  One last admonition: don’t forget to record/document your faculty development efforts for inclusion in your annual report/evaluation!

     What Students Want
     MID-SUMMER Salutations!!  ssd

    September 2013: Prompts That Get Students to Analyze, Reflect, Relate, and Question

    A simple teaching technique that helps students learn to analyze, reflect, relate, and question via these four prompts:

    The question set is versatile. Here are some examples of how it could be used.

    Does this question-set have an effect on student learning? Yes, it does! Dietz-Uhler and Lanter's students who answered the four prompts before taking a quiz did significantly better than students who completed them after they took the quiz. The average quiz score for those answering the questions first was 74% (SD 25.48%) and 59.18% (SD 29.69%) for those answering them after the quiz. The second author group analyzed the level of critical thinking in the online discussions of a case when students answered the four questions before they participated in the discussion. They discussed two other cases without using the prompts. Critical thinking scores were significantly higher when students used the question set first.


             Dietz-Uhler, B. and Lanter, J. R. (2009). Using the four-questions technique to enhance learning. Teaching of Psychology, 36 (1), 38-41.

             Alexander, M. E., Commander, N., Greenberg, D., and Ward, T. (2010) Using the four-questions technique to enhance critical thinking in online discussions. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 6 (2), 409-415.

    APPLICATION NOTE FROM STEVE:  Average wait time after asking a question =< 1 second.  If you answer your own questions, 1) students will let you and expect it and not answer - ever; 2) you deprive the students of thinking about the answer; 3) you prove you know the answer.  Try a “think, pair, share” activity on one of your next lecture questions (it’s an active/engaged learning technique).  Students are asked to think of the answer and briefly write it, then pair and compare with a neighbor, and then share with the group – everyone gets involved and is firing or creating the neurons on the objective – how cool is that?
    Summer’s End Salutations!!  May all your questions prompt students to analyze, reflect, relate, and question!  ssd

    October 2013: Five Tips for Fostering Learning

    Five Tips for Fostering Learning, from students:

    Tip #1. Build a community of learners.
    Many students mentioned that it was rare that they have a class where they learn everyone’s name and really get to know one another. They mentioned the word “family” when they talked about how they viewed the class, and how they felt safe and supported by each other. One student said he would be having a really bad day and then he would walk into the class and find the stress of the day melt away. One student recalled a morning she woke up late. She said, “I felt awful that I had missed class…not that I don’t feel bad when I miss other classes, but I felt I had let my classmates down by not showing up that day. I’ve never felt like that in another class.”

    Tip #2. Make learning relevant.
    I have my students write down a goal they want to achieve and then create a plan of action. Several students commented that they had never written down their goals before and they liked how I “made” them do it. One student summed it up by saying. “What I really loved is that we were talking about our goals in our speeches, stuff that actually mattered to us. It made us want to listen to each other when we knew the speaker’s topic was something they really cared about…we didn’t judge their speaking qualities…we wanted to just listen to their message. I liked that we talked about things that mattered to us.”

    Tip #3. Let students know you care about them. (modified by Steve for my audience)
    Periodically use a tool like “Stop, Start, Continue” (simply have them break out a sheet of paper, put “Stop” at the top, “Start” in the middle, and “Continue” near the bottom).  Ask them to quickly write one thing for each.  Use this feedback to adjust to their needs and presto – they get the idea you really care about their learning!  They don’t care what you know till they know that you care and this demonstrates that in spades!”  (see Angelo & Cross: “Classroom Assessment Techniques”).

    Tip #4. Incorporate active involvement for all students, along with high expectations.
    Research says that the students learn more if they are actively involved in the learning. Several students commented that they liked how I put them in charge of their own class, and kept encouraging them to reach higher. One student said that he was asked by a friend if this was an easy class. He responded, “Are you kidding, Mrs. Spencer makes us do all of the work. We could totally have class, even if she didn’t show up!” (see Elizabeth Berkley: Student Engagement Techniques”).


    Tip #5. Make learning fun.
    I have a quote at the bottom of all my emails that says “If you love what you do and think that it matters, what could be more fun!” One of my student’s parting words began with this. “I’m not going to lie to you, I loved this class. I didn’t actually think about it as a class … it thought about it more like a recess. Time to have fun!”

    So, five tips on fostering learning in the classroom: Build a community of learners, make learning relevant, let students know you care about them, incorporate active learning with high expectations, and make learning fun.

    By Karen Spencer, a professor of Speech Communication and Education at Arizona Western College.



    APPLICATION NOTE FROM STEVE:  Now it’s your turn.  Think about how you might employ more of each tip in your teaching.  Even if you just try one thing you will probably improve one or more students learning…and that’s what teaching is about!


    Fall Salutations!!  Do not neglect joy in the journey!   ssd

    November 2013: Encouraging Non-Participants to Join in Your Discussion

    Here, are  a few ideas, based on suggestions in McKeachie’s Teaching Tips, Fourteenth Edition, which can help you encourage students to become more actively involved in your class discussions.


             Create what Marilla D. Svinicki and Wilbert J. McKeachie call “an expectation of participation” (p. 48) in your class discussions. Tell your students the value of participating in discussions—for both the speaker and the listeners. (If participation has an impact on students’ grades, express that as well.)


             Maintain a welcoming classroom environment conducive to clear and positive communication. If possible, arrange the room’s seating in a circle or semi-circle. Retain good eye contact with and smile at those who seem nervous or uncomfortable.  And call students by name—this helps students (or anyone, really) feel remembered and recognized.


             Become familiar with your students’ personal interests and areas of expertise, whether by responses to “getting to know you” questions on a worksheet or through one-on-one conversations.


             Consider breaking the class up into pairs or small groups; have them first cover your discussion topic in these smaller units, then ask them to share their ideas with the class as a whole.


             Give students the opportunity to write out their response to your question first—then open the floor for discussion. Those who don’t feel confident about “thinking on their feet” may be more comfortable speaking up if they have an answer written down in front of them. (You could also provide the question at the end of a class session, ask students to write out their answers, and come to the next class session ready to discuss their responses.)


             Prompt students to develop their own questions, which could be used as a part of class discussion.


             Ask some opinion or experience-based questions that relate to your discussion topic, but which have no “wrong answer.”


             Invite students to continue the discussion with you and their fellow students outside of class, whether by e-mail, instant messenger, the course’s online discussion board—or, of course, through face- to-face conversations. (Svinicki and McKeachie, 48-50)


    Reference: McKeachie, Wilbert J. and Svinicki, Marilla. 2014. McKeachie’s Teaching Tips:Strategies, Research, and Theory for College and University Teachers, 14th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.


    APPLICATION NOTE FROM STEVE:  Many of our students are introverts who like to reflect before answering…if you make time for that it slows the extroverts (those who have to speak to find out what they know) down and gives the introverts time to formulate their ideas.  Also, using an activity like “Think, Pair, Share” from Angelo and Cross’s “Classroom Assessment Techniques or activities from Elizabeth Berkley’s “Student Engagement Activities” you can provide good opportunities for introverts to openly participate.  Finally, I viewed an excellent TED talk recently on the value of introverts titled “Susan Cain: The power of introverts” that you may be interested in (  It’s interesting and fun too!


    Thanksgiving!!  A great holiday of appreciation and positive praise.   May yours be Happy!  ssd


    December 2013: How We Learn and How We Teach

    Think about the most important lessons learned in life.  Write one on the front of six index cards. On the back write as much you can remember about the circumstances surrounded that event.  Looked for patterns—things those learning events had in common. Where did they happen? In school or in less formal settings? How many involved teachers? What kind of feelings accompanied the learning? Was the learning hard? Was it planned or did it evolve out of unexpected circumstances? How often was the learning about correcting a misunderstanding, gaining a new insight, or deepening a current understanding?

    The index card activity is a great exercise. It's a way to get thinking about the kind of learning that lasts…thinking about the implications of how we've learned in terms of how we could or should teach.

    I encourage you to get a pack of index cards and do this exercise with a few colleagues.

    By Maryellen Weimer, PhD, reference: White, Harold B. (2013). Do you teach the way you learn? Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education, 41 (3), 187-188.


    APPLICATION NOTE FROM STEVE:  Creating a new or restructuring a lesson or activity for more impactful learning is a great goal – even it’s just one thing.  Refresh and renew your teaching through critical reflection using the index card activity and fight for feedback – the topic of next month’s FacDev Note.


    Happy Holidaze! – enjoy special times and may the spirit of the season lift you up!!   ssd


    January 2014: Fighting For Feedback

    Greetings Premier Medical Educator,


    My son flies the Air Force C17 and must take off from Charleston AFB and land between the lines at the beginning of the runway in Qatar.  He can only do this with course corrections based upon frequent and regular navigational feedback.  Imagine where he would land if he only received that feedback the way we normally give our feedback to our students – once at the end?   


    As you begin 2014, make a plan to get and give appropriate feedback, because appropriate feedback is the gift that keeps on giving!


    If you are a classroom teacher, try our Classroom Observation Formand readAid To Giving and Receiving Feedback” found at our faculty development website along with many other teaching resources (


    If you are a clinical teacher, check out the many modules on feedback in our compilation of “Resources for Faculty (Preceptors)” and readAid To Giving and Receiving Feedback” found at our faculty development website along with many other teaching resources ( 


    We are responsible for helping our students land in the field at the right place, but for them to do that they (and we) need frequent and regular feedback.  Make this the year of appropriate feedback for yourself, those you work with and those you teach. 




    Happy New Year! – Joy in the journey!!   ssd


    TAKE ACTION: Finish this sentence and then plan (on your “To Do” list and calendar) the action you will take:


    Starting in January 2014, I will make it a regular practice of fighting for and giving appropriate feedback by ____________________________________________________.


    February 2014: The "Good Teacher"

    Greetings Medical Teacher,


    According to Harden and Laidlaw in their recent book, “Essential Skills for a Medical Teacher: An introduction to teaching and learning in medicine” a “good teacher” clarifies learning outcomes, develops and delivers learning opportunities, supports and facilitates student’s learning and assess learner’s progress.  It is now widely recognized that medical educators require a combination of technical competence, appropriate teaching skills, and professionalism as illustrated in the diagram below (used with permission):


    These competencies are multiplied rather than added to emphasize that a “0” in any one will result in a teaching score of “0”.   While that’s a bitter pill to swallow, the sentiment is important.   The book goes on to provide details for all these.


    We’ve (OUHCOM Office of Faculty Development) developed a teaching best practices poster you can use to see what students appreciate.  You can use it to identify your (self-reported or have someone else fill it out on you) areas of strength and weakness so you can develop an improvement plan.  Do this once per quarter or semester and document it for your annual report.  See:  If you need help getting organized, try our quick lesson planning template:


    For you clinical teachers, work through our “The Effective Preceptor” module found at:   &


    Be the “Good Teacher!”  ssd

    Resource: Harden & Laidlaw, “Essential Skills for a Medical Teacher: An introduction to teaching and learning in medicine,” 2012 Elsevier, ISBN 978-0-7020-4582-0


    March 2014: Critical Relection - Brain Work for Learning That Sticks!

    A Little Assignment with the Big Impact: Reading, Writing, Critical Reflection, and Meaningful Discussion

    A Purposeful Reading Assignment called “The 3-2-1”:



    1) read what is assigned, then choose and describe the three most important aspects (concepts, issues, factual information, etc.) of the reading, justifying their choices;

    2) identify two aspects of the reading they don't understand, and briefly discuss why these confusing aspects interfered with their general understanding of the reading; and

    3) pose a question to the text's author, the answer to which should go beyond the reading content and does not reflect the areas of confusion in requirement 2…it should reflect students' curiosity and reveals what they think are the implications or applications of the reading content.


    The grading process is minimal; three marks for part 1, two for part 2 and one for part 3, all based on a simple rubric, also provided to students.  You can have self-grade and turn in, grade each others and turn in, or grade them yourself/TA/assistant.  It’s important to provide credit or many may not participate – discussion & benefits will not be realized


    Teacher using this said, “I was amazed at the impact of this seemingly 'little' assignment on students' engagement and empowerment.”  It improved thoughtfulness, engagement, and discussions.  Students were unanimous in their agreement the three questions made them think deeply and critically about the readings. They reported greater confidence in their capability to discuss the reading.  “Since the first graduate class in which I used the 3-2-1, I have analyzed the mid- and end-of-term course feedback to the question, "What aspects of the course were of greatest benefit to your learning?"  The purposeful, 3-2-1 reading report is the most frequently cited in all courses (mid-term =72% of all students, n= 549, end of term = 65% of students, n= 513).  A typical response is revealing: "I hate to admit it because they required quite a bit of effort, but the 3-2-1 reports were really helpful." Students appreciate their effectiveness, but don't particularly enjoy doing them; therefore, it is important to assign a grade to the report that is consistent with the effort required and to ensure that the reading discussion draws on the content of their reports.




              Novak, G. M. (2011), Just-in-time teaching. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 2011: 63-73. doi: 10.1002/tl.469.

              Roberts, J. C. and. Roberts, K. S. (2008). Deep reading, cost/benefit, and the construction of meaning: Enhancing reading comprehension and deep learning in sociology Courses. Teaching Sociology 36(2):125-4.

    Dr. Geraldine Van Gyn is a professor in the School of Exercise Science at the University of Victoria.

    An extended version of this assignment is available here:

    A #3-2-1 template is available here:  



    NOTE FROM STEVE: I like this because it’s simple, easy to use and can be easily adapted to any class, lab, problem set, or clinical training for our community preceptors.  You could make it the 1-1-1 to trim it down a bit.  It is an educational imperative to make a concerted effort to engage our students brains in a way that strongly enhances neuronal firings for learning that sticks!!!


    Happy neuro blasting and welcome to SPING 2014 (almost – 20 March)!  ssd

    April 2014: Make Up Month - Learning Philosophy vs Teaching Philosophy

    Greetings Learning Specialist,


    I recently read an article to educators asking us to develop a “Learning Philosophy” vs the usual “Teaching Philosophy”

    (What's Your Learning Philosophy? By Maryellen Weimer, PhD: 


    Basically, we educators should be “learning experts” and think not, “How am I going to teach this?” but more “How best can I help my audience learn this?”  We know we learn best with application, repetition, and engagement.  We know how neural synaptic connections grow from what’s already there and strengthen with use.  We know the brain can’t not learn.  (see John Medina’s “Brain Rules”)


    Next time it’s your turn to teach, think about it as an opportunity to facilitating your charges learning rather than telling them what you know (while that can be an important part).  Help them learn, and learn how to learn, by taking responsibility for engaging with your materials to strengthen the probability of future recall, transfer and use.


    This will require you to think (or look up) engaged learning activities and plan on one or more to go along with each major topic.  Here is a model for lesson plan development that encourages not only good, organized communication but also prompts to add active learning to your lesson.


    Presentation Format:

                                                 Transition                                    Transition

    1. Introduction

    2. Body

    3. Conclusion


    Point one & Activity





    Motivation (The “WHY”)

    Point two & Activity





    Objectives & Overview

    Point three & Activity



             Give the introduction and conclusion their due with an exciting attention and motivation at the “BIG”inning, summary and remotivation at the end (why should they listen/pay attention?).

             Plan effective transitions (summarize highlights of last point and introduce what’s next). 

             Provide at least one active learning strategy per point (audience response, drawing, think/pair/share, test question writing…) – keep them engaged. 

             Practice 3 times before delivery of new lesson and at least once for non-new lessons.

             Like this slide – use visuals… a picture is worth a thousand words. 

             See for a quick lesson planning template using this format.




    NOTE FROM STEVE: Be the “guide on the side” not the “sage on the stage.”  If you’re very ambitious, write your “Learning Philosophy.”  What is it you believe and teach about how people learn best?  Then use that to guide your lesson development in the future.


    Welcome to Spring 2014…may your teaching events blossom into learning events!!!   ssd

    May 2014: #10 Spend time in the slide sorter

    Greetings MedEd’r,


    Garr Reynolds, best-selling author and speaker on effective communication, provides his “Top Ten Slide Tips” at  I want to highlight #10 “Spend time in the slide sorter” as a best practice.


    This viewing mode (“Slide Sorter”) provides a great “60,000ft view” of your entire presentation on one screen using thumbnail images allowing you to see the beginning, middle, end, transitions, logic, flow, headings, slide readability, color, and business.  This is my “go to” first tool when asked to review a presentation because I can quickly and easily get a feel for content, clarity, and the other elements mentioned. 


    Here is screen shot from a recent presentation I did...look for those elements mentioned in the previous sentence and see how this view helps you review and evaluate those:


    If you don’t already do this, I highly recommend you give it a try for your next presentation.  Simply click on the  icon in the lower right of the ppt working screen or select “View” from the top menu and then “Slide Sorter.”


    All the best as you wrap up this academic year and begin review and preparation for the incoming class!!!   ssd


    June 2014: Lecture Well!

    Salutations - meaning, I salute you!


    Some say the lecture method is dead.  I say, hogwash!  There is still, and I believe always will be, a place for the well-constructed and delivered lecture.


    Here are some resources to reinforce the “why” of lecture and provide you with VERY PRACTICAL and USEFUL tools to help as you plan your upcoming lectures:


    1.    A report from the Journal of the International Association of Medical Science Educators (JIAMSE) Volume 19 Number 3 2009 states many students regard the lecture method as a valuable multifaceted aid to learning.  The most frequently stated characteristics of a good lecturer were animation, enthusiasm, passion, and clarity/organization.  A dominant theme emerging from the qualitative survey is the rather obvious point that the utility of a lecture depends heavily upon the quality of the lecturer.  Here are some of the conclusions about why the lecture is still relevant and an important tool in your teaching arsenal:


    1) Lectures provide focus and emphasis

    2) Multimodality exposure reinforces learning

    3) Lectures explain/resolve difficulties and complexities in the notes and other readings

    4) Lectures provide an overview, “the big picture”

    5) Lectures provide exposure to experts/role models

    6) Lectures are a time-efficient way to learn

    7) Lectures encourage structure and discipline

    8) Lectures provide depth and insight through examples not present in the readings

    9) Lectures perpetuate a habitual/traditional way of learning – soothe anxiety

    10) Lectures provide a dynamic, interesting way to learn



    2.    A resource from Tom Hemmick, Ph.D., a celebrated professor who practices and publishes on the value of a good lecture.  As a proponent of the lecture method he outlines a number of strategies to make his lectures more engaging…test yourself on how well you do these and make a plan to improve:


             Eye contact

             Story telling

             Explaining why ideas are wrong

             Break in pace & tone

             Use of humor

             Getting some performing arts training

             Gesturing and moving

             Fighting for student input

             Saying when you don’t know, “I don’t know.”

             Annunciation/articulation/projection of words (theater voice)

             Reading student body language – paying attention

             Mentioning when something is on the exam

             Recording fears and facts



    3.    An excellent resource I found on “Teaching Large Classes” from the National Association of Geoscience Teachers (NAGT) “On the Cutting Edge” project sponsored by the National Science Foundation is loaded with explanations and succinct resources for:


         Delivering Interactive & memorable lectures

         Effective Teaching in Large Classes

         Keeping students engaged in large lecture classes

         Making technology work for you

         Getting groups to work well

         Innovation in large lectures



    I highly recommend you review these resources and find something to apply as you reflect and prepare for the 2014-15 school year…and don’t forget to document that you did this in your portfolio and at your annual review!


    May blessings be heaped upon you for your choice to engage in the preparation of our next great generation of care providers!


    Spring is sprung…summer is impatiently waiting in the wings…I’ll write you again, then.  ssd

     July 2014: The 13 PowerPoint Sins You Must Avoid 

           Speaker reading what is on the screen word by word

           Hoping for the PowerPoint slide show to cover your lack of preparation

           Too much on the slide

           We cannot read your slide

           Too many colors and graphics

           Too much motion on the screen

           No apparent reason for using the PowerPoint slides

           Items displayed on slide with no clear relationship to each other

           Using the standard clipart that everyone uses

           Printing in all caps or other hard to read fonts

           Printing the standard slides on the PowerPoint handouts

           Displaying lots of numbers

           Displaying too much detail 

    NOTE FROM STEVE: As we plan for the new academic year it’s always good to review and create with some basic guidelines.  I found this list to succinct and to the point. You can use it as a checklist when creating or reviewing.  Also, remember the 6x6 rule…no more than 6 bullets and no more than 6 words per, and remember “Vision Trumps All Other Senses” (Medina, “Brain Rules).  Ppt should enhance the presentation, not be the presentation.  Sometimes…don’t use one J, a sub-folder of, by “Speech Coach for Executives” George Torok

    August 2014: Instructional Strategy to Engage Learners, "Exit Slips"

    Purpose:  To engage students in summarizing their learning 

    Description:  Using this strategy, students will synthesize learned information, skills, and processes by writing an Exit Slip. An Exit Slip can be a One Sentence Summary of what students learned or can be used in a variety of other ways. Other uses are: to answer a review question, to pose a question related to the topic studied, to make a short list of facts learned, to set a learning goal for the next day, etc. 


    1. Prior to using the Exit Slip as a summary activity in your classroom, decide upon its purpose (including whether or not it will be used as an assessment or evaluation tool).
    2. During the last 5-10 minutes of class, inform students of the purpose/task associated with their Exit Slip.
    3. Tell students to take out a half-sheet of paper and complete the assigned Exit Slip.
    4. As students exit your classroom that day, collect their Exit Slips as a pass out the door.

    Hint: Exit Slips are a great way to assess your own teaching. They will often indicate whether or not students understood the presented material. When used to pose a question, they can provide discussion questions for the next day's lesson.


    This activity can easily be adapted for clinical educators – not just for classroom instructors.  



    NOTE FROM STEVE:  Fight for feedback…you are responsible for your teaching/facilitating their learning…do you know how you’re doing? 

    September 2014: 6 Quick Brain-Based Teaching Strategies

    Eric Jensen runs a website with goal of connecting the most recent brain research with practical classroom strategies.  These strategies are good considerations for classroom AND clinical teachers:

    1. The saying “too much, too fast,” means we won’t integrate and recall the information if you teach quickly. Instead, chunk down the learning into small chunks; allow processing and settling time or perhaps use a reflective journal time.

    2. Because every brain is different—genes + experience, plus the interplay between the two, recall the importance of honoring uniqueness, respecting differences.  That means use huge variety to maximize learning.  Use visual, with illustrations, and podcasts and DVDs.  Then use movement with drama, hands on and energizers. 

    3. Most subjects can be learned under moderate stress; think of it as “healthy concern.”  To ramp that up, use constant accountability.  After every learning chunk, have student/s create a quiz question, stand up, quiz their neighbor or create a short quiz of 10 questions.  Use teams, peer pressure and deadlines to add concern.  Remember the material better with an emotion embedded with it.  After the quiz, celebrate the progress.

    4. Thinking about thinking builds learning skills as active processing time. Add the process of journaling, discussion and learning logs valuable for better learning.  Give students starter sentences such as “What I was curious (or stressed over) about today was”… Or, “What I learned today was… and, the way I learned it best was when I.”  Until patterns emerge, learning is often random and messy, following no clear path over time, the patterns become more obvious.

    5. Remember the value in non-learning or “settling” time, to consolidate the content.  Take breaks, recess, lunch, relax time, walks, for passive processing.  Even a quick energizer that’s fun and playful can be a good break.

    6. Our brain can memorize, but our best learning is the trial & error learning; it’s a key to complex learning–there’s value in games done well, so use games, computers, competition, building, initiatives, etc.  Brains rarely get it right the first time—learning complexity is built over time.  Using checklists, peer teaching, computers, asking Qs, are all examples of using trial and error.

    From Eric Jensen in Brain-Based Teaching on 08 13th, 2014:


    NOTE FROM STEVE:  Every educator should become a “Brain Connoisseur.”  See if you can incorporate at least one idea from this month’s FacDev Note into your teaching and note the result (some great tips in #6) – it’s really a win-win. 

    October 2014: Educational Games Support Learning

    In “Games to Teach ByMungai & Jones lay out a compelling argument for the use of games highlighting the way games connect learners to knowledge, key concepts, facts, and processes in way that is fun and purposeful.  They go on to extrapolate how games reinforce and review course or lecture information allowing learners to apply what they’ve learned.  Using games also takes advantage of the value of play - some friendly competition to excite, creative thinking/imagining, and making learning fun.

    (Source: Published in the Proceedings of the 18th Annual Conference on Distance Teaching and Learning.  Linked to


    Bottom line: Mungai & Jones created a website with 16 Power Point ready games that include both a template and example to get you started.  “PARADE OF GAMES IN POWERPOINT”


    NOTE FROM STEVE:  I recommend you check this out and just add one to your next teaching assignment.  They are: free, very easy to use, learning-centered, a nice break from lecture, often more memorable than lecture, and enjoyed by most.  After you try one, survey your class for feedback…get in the habit of fighting for feedback and constant improvement!

    November 2014: Setting Clear Expectations

            Much confusion, frustration, and wasted time can be eliminated if you teach/precept from a set of clear expectations - “Job #1” for all good leaders


            For classroom & clinical setting: best to begin with clear expectations, usually in form of objectives:

                       What will the student be able to know, feel, or as a result of our time together?


            Take time before you next student encounter - evaluate the clarity of what you think they should be able to know, feel, or do as a result of your time together and begin your time together discussing it


             Obviously, in the clinical setting, you have to be flexible - that doesn’t mean you can’t set some objectives for your student based upon what you think they should get from your time together and from what they say they want to get from your time together. 


             Doing this at the beginning of each encounter can go a long way to minimize the confusion, frustration, and wasted time of continually trying to figure out the expectations along the route


            Follow up at the end of your time together to learn how close you came to achieving your objectives and what you could do better the next time. 


    NOTE FROM STEVE:  This applies to any leadership task, “Job #1” is to “Set Clear Expectations.”  The “Seven Steps to Setting Clear Expectations” below might help:

    1.  Make them clear for yourself

    2.  Know where you need expectations

    3.  Understand why

    4.  Meet and discuss

    5.  Make it mutual

    6.  Write them down

    7.  Get agreement and commitment


     December 2014:  Listen!

    What can you do to be become a better listener?


    Here are just four of the many simple and effective tips found in Say It Right – part of the Communicate for Success Passport 4 Pak:


    Make a commitment to start trying these tips TODAY. They will make a positive difference for you. Are you listening?

    Source: Daily Tip from


    Note from Steve: Good listeners engender trust, trust engenders better relationships, better relationships engender better outcomes.  The skill of listening is not as easy as those four statements make it seem, but it’s worth it.  Whether you are a classroom instructor, clinical instructor, administrator, or researcher – listening well will make you the “engenderer!”

    January 2015: Think Pair Share


    Purpose:  To engage students in about their prior knowledge of a topic.

    Description: During this activity, students will have individual time to think about a question related to the topic of study.  They will then pair up with a partner to share their thoughts.  Finally, the pairs will select one major idea to share with the entire class.


    1.     Generate a higher-level question related to the topic you are about to study.

    2.     Group students into pairs.

    3.     Pass out a Think-Pair-Share worksheet to each student.

    4.     Give students 5 minutes to write down their individual thoughts in the "Think" section of the worksheet.

    5.     Then, in pairs, have groups share their individual thoughts.  Pairs should summarize their common thoughts in the "Pair" section of their worksheet.

    6.     Finally, pairs choose one major idea to share with the entire class.  This should be written in the "Share" section of their worksheet.



    NOTE FROM STEVE:  A great way to engage students, fire their neurons before or during or after an lecture, get them to teach each other and really move toward true lecture/DISCUSSION!