Connections – Episode 13

Jodie continued to be amazed by how her professor had integrated life lessons into his classes. These seemed to be lessons that were only fully appreciated after graduation.

I must say that I was just not a fan of the work you required in your classes. Every day we had a graded assignment to do. You expected them to be turned in by the next class. Even being one day late resulted in a huge penalty.

But over time, I’ve seen these assignments in a different way. What I see now is that you were establishing a work ethic that has become the brand for our program. We never have to worry about whether one of your former students will give us their full effort.

I’ve also valued your approach to feedback. Every assignment was graded and returned to us by the next class period. Also, you gave us an “answer sheet”. This could be an example of what a fully developed response would look like. Recently, I’ve been doing a lot of reading on neuroscience and how the brain develops. Repetitive practice is something that has been discovered as being essential to skill development. Repetitive practice is not simply time spent on developing a skill, but it also depends on the feedback given. Your intuitive understanding of what it takes to learn a skill seems to be authenticated by the fMRI studies now being conducted.

But there was another aspect of your assignments that I’m just now appreciating. You allowed us to do assignments in groups of 2-3 students. What I’m now realizing is that you were teaching us collaboration skills. As I look back on it, the students I collaborated with others who weren’t my best friends. They were students who complemented my skills. We taught each other. Again, I’ve learned from neuroscience that the highest form of learning comes from saying and doing.

Our company has begun to use some of your practices. Rather than having every employee participate in scripted training that is quickly forgotten, we now introduce what we want people to learn in small modules with follow-up assignments. They can do these with others. Thank goodness, we have abandoned the worthless “check the box” training we used to do.

Thanks for helping me learn to learn.

Jennie – Class of 2003

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