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Office of the Provost Teaching at WSU

How much content is too much?

The short essay linked below addresses a question/problem that MOST of us deal with – the challenge of “covering” what we feel compelled to cover. Almost all of us do this despite the compelling evidence we can each provide that “covering” something typically does NOT mean our students will be able to retrieve it or use it later. Those who teach in the 4th year of the DVM program often attest to this problem.

So, what are we to do?

Teaching better is an approach that many of us have advocated, but even our best efforts are often still disappointing. Teaching LESS seems another strategy that we probably need to make peace with.

I’d argue also that we collectively need to have a better understanding of the SCIENCE OF LEARNING, as many of our expectations may just be out of line with how learning actually works – i.e. how the human brain works. As we’ve discussed in the past, it turns out that FORGETTING and then active RETRIEVAL are key components of learning that actually “sticks”.

Anyway, I thought the essay and the one it references raise these points pretty well. This essay is also part of advertising an online webinar called Taming the Monster: Rethinking the Role of Content. If you have questions or comments on the article and its context, please contact Rachel Halsey.

Stephen A. Hines, DVM, PhD, DACVP, Director, CVM Teaching Academy

Read “More Content Doesn’t Equal More Learning” from Faculty Focus