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I teach Anatomy & Physiology (including neurons) to pre-nursing and allied health community college students. Even though I tell my students that I need them to understand how neurons work and how the different parts function, my students prefer reduce this to simple memorization and generally miss the point of what I want them to do. I'd like to know what kind of deal with the devil the flashcard industry has made. My students show up to class & office hours with enormous stacks of flashcards (sometimes inches thick). Here's a typical exchange I'll have with a student: Me: Why do you use all of these flashcards? Them: Because that's what we were told to do in high school. To make flashcards. Me: What do you use them for? Them: To learn the vocabulary words. Me: But I gave you a list of study objectives and most of them deal with how X works. There's not a lot of vocab on the exam. Them: Oh, but I've got that on this card here. (Shows me a 3" x 5" card with two paragraphs copied out of textbook on it.) Me: Uh, does that help you? Them: (no response) Moral of the story: just because a student says he/she needs to memorize something in science, that's often just a survival instinct to get out of doing something harder, usually because the deeper understanding requires a level of self-assessment and self-critique that makes students uncomfortable.
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Jan 17, 2010