a surprise awaited first-year students of
McMaster University’s Michael G. DeGroote
School of Medicine after they crossed the
stage to receive their white clerk’s jackets
– a fall tradition at many medical schools.
Alumni of the medical school had been
asked if they would like to write a note of
advice to be presented to a first-year student.
Graduates from across Canada responded,
allowing organizers to tuck an individual
note into the coat pocket of each of the 205
first-year students, says Veronica McGuire of
McMaster’s media relations department.
Many of the notes congratulated the students and offered advice on school work and
looking after themselves. Among the alumni
notes were these tips from family physician
Amanda Bell, class of ’98: “Eat, sleep and use
the bathroom whenever you have the opportunity. … Respect your patients, your teachers
and expect respect in return.” Lyndsay Rein
Evans, a family medicine resident from the
class of 2011, wrote: “Don’t forget to think
– independent thought is what got you into
medical school. Make sleep a priority. Be
kind to allied health professionals – always.”
– léo charbonneau
New medical students at McMaster
found a surprise in their pockets.
Good lectures beat the latest
technology in class
Kevin Lynch, vice-chairman of BMO Financial Group, from his 2012
Killam Lecture, delivered at the University of Ottawa, Nov. 5.
To use business parlance, Canada has a
portfolio allocation problem. We are
over-invested in trade with a slowly growing
Western economy, and we’re under-invested
in continuing innovation in what we produce,
how we produce it and where we sell it.
… It’s simple: we need to diversify.
university students prefer the “old school”
approach of an engaging lecture over the use
of the latest technological bells and whistles
in the classroom. That was a finding in a
recent study of the perceptions of students
and professors in Quebec on the use of
information and communications technologies, or ICTs, in higher learning.
“Students are old school – they want
lectures. They want to listen to a professor
who’s engaging, who’s intellectually stimulating and who delivers the
content to them,” says Vivek
Venkatesh, associate dean
of academic programs and
development in the school of graduate studies at Concordia University.
Dr. Venkatesh says this goes against
much of what he hears at professional development workshops that stress interactive
learning strategies, often with technology.
The study was conducted by Dr. Venkatesh in partnership with Magda Fusaro, a
professor in the department of management
and technology at Université du Québec à
Montréal. Together, they conducted a pilot
project at UQAM before rolling out the survey in 2011 to a dozen universities across the
province, to which 15,000 undergraduate
students and more than 2,500 instructors
responded (for response rates of 10 percent
and 20 percent respectively).
old school – they
The results indicate that students and
professors don’t always agree on what works
best in the classroom, says Dr. Fusaro. “Our
analysis showed that teachers think that
their students feel more positive about their
classroom learning experience if there are
more interactive, discussion-oriented ac-
tivities. In reality, engaging and stimulating
lectures, regardless of how technologies are
used, are what really predict students’ appre-
ciation of a given university course.”
Most instructors reported using ICTs in
class at least occasionally (only 46 of 2,640
polled never used ICTs). The most-used tech-
nologies were email and word processing
and presentation software. Less used were
blogs, wikis, specialized statistical software
and computer games and simulations.
Another interesting tidbit from the survey: students seem underwhelmed by the
prospect of online learning. Dr. Venkatesh
says this shows that “we need to understand
better the benefits and pitfalls of these technologies before jumping on a particular
bandwagon,” such as massive open online
courses, or MOOCs.
Dr. Venkatesh says he hopes the results
will have a broad impact, especially in terms
of curriculum design and professional development. “I’m looking forward to many, many
months of analyzing this data.”
– léo charbonneau