I had the opportunity this summer to attend my very first conference focused solely on teaching. My usual conferences are immersive experiences in the science of the physiology of exercise, but this one was completely different. If you haven’t ever attended a Lilly Teaching Conference, I highly recommend it.

One of the sessions I attended was entitled, “Focus Your Lecture with the One-Sentence Lesson Plan,” led by Norman Eng, a professor at The City College in New York. His premise was that most faculty focus on WHAT they will lecture on rather than on what they want their students to KNOW and be able to DO as a result of what they have learned. The former approach is very content driven and focused on teaching, while the latter approach is focused on learning.

The problem is that students forget most about WHAT we teach. Meyers & Jones (1993) reported that students who took a Psychology 101 class knew only 8% more than students who didn’t take the class. They reasoned that cognitive overload, and a focus on content was getting in the way of real learning.

Eng encourages instructors to ask themselves a simple question, which forms the basis for the one-sentence lesson plan: Continue reading