Increasingly, accreditation agencies are advocating for deeper levels of mastery by our students that include cognition, application, and evaluation, as well as an ability to communicate in various ways.

I was struck by an article I was reading recently that reminded me of an assignment from graduate school. In essence, each student was to present a summary of a research article related to a chronic disease that was assigned. As I read the article related to exercise for people with type I diabetes, there were so many things that I had to look up (in a book…with pages), that I decided to integrate a lesson for the class on type I diabetes into my presentation. It went well because my preparation meant that I really understood what I was talking about. It went so well, in fact, that if I had to choose a moment in my education that cemented my plans to become a professor, that was it.

My recent read suggested that instead of having student groups give “presentations,” have them present an actual class lesson. For me, I truly learn it when I have to teach it, and I’m assuming that is true for our students as well. The beauty of structuring an assignment as a class lesson is that students can incorporate their prior professional and life experiences and their own creativity into the lesson. They can demonstrate to us how they learn best through how they teach their peers, and they can practice teamwork in an authentic environment.

The structure of the presentation will need to be clear and directive with support from the instructor since most students have probably not taught content before. It might look something like this:

  • Your group will plan a 45-minute lesson. The lesson should not be lecture-only. You should incorporate teaching strategies that engage your classmates with the content.
  • Your group must meet with me early in the planning stages. Come to this meeting with a delineation of roles, an outline for your lesson content with time allocation for each piece, and an active learning strategy to support your lesson.
  • Each member of the team should be an active participant in planning and leading the lesson.
  • The lesson could incorporate ethical issues in which your classmates must defend a position, case studies, or a problem that must be solved.
  • Each group can appoint a spokesperson to report out or participate on a panel where they each have 3 minutes to defend their position or present their solution.
  • Assessment will include the structure of your lesson, use of time, ability to engage the class, and an assessment of each of your other group members’ contribution to the final product.

Having students move into the role of guide and teacher requires a higher order of mastery than simply preparing for a group presentation. Their level of creativity may surprise you!

Have you successfully used this approach? If so, leave a reply and tell us about your assignment!

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