by Patty Collier
Have you ever listened to a 90 minute lecture? Have you ever given one?
My students start each class with enthusiasm. Cool, we’re going to learn how to rehab someone after an ACL reconstruction. They are fresh and excited to learn.
I start with a 30-minute lecture reviewing the knee joint: the bones, the muscles, the ligaments. Things they learned last semester. They get bored, their eyes turn glassy, and some look like they are asleep. I have totally lost them, and I still have 60 more minutes of lecture to go. Torture. For them and for me.
This year I tried something new: instead of lecture, the class draws a concept map of the info they learned last semester. In the center of the map is the joint: the knee. Then I say, get with a classmate and list all of the motions of the knee joint. They tell me the answers, and I fill in that part of the concept map on the board. Then they list the normal ranges of motion for each movement, and then which muscles are the prime movers. This creates a visual map of their knowledge of the knee.
I start adding new info to the map, showing them where it fits into what they already know. What muscles do you stretch to restore knee flexion? What joint mobilization would help improve knee extension? What tests does the PT use to diagnose which structures are injured?
Sometimes I record my old lecture material for the students to listen to outside of class, which leaves more time in class to draw the connections, discuss the implications, and practice case studies on the new material. The students like the recordings because they can listen to them more than once, or even while they are commuting to class.
The students enjoy this way of learning so much that they asked if I could use the same method in their other classes. They like testing their memory, seeing how new and old information relate, and getting to ask questions as they work through the case studies. I enjoy seeing them awake, engaged, and excited to learn. The other great part is that I am no longer exhausted when I finish a class. I’m energized, too.
Letting go of the lecture can be hard, but if you have the courage to add a little active learning strategy to your class, you might find a renewed energy in your teaching. Keep up the good work, fellow teachers. The students are grateful for your efforts.