Educational Design – Module 2 pre-reading Foundations of University Learning and Teaching


While I was worried that the pre-reading for this module may be a bit irrelevant and onerous, I was pleasantly surprised and found that it was in fact directly relevant to the teaching that I do at UND and UNSW.

I have heard many of these terms bandied about before, but it is excellent to have a true knowledge of them and how they fit into the educational design

COURSE AIMS: teaching intentions, why it’s important, big picture (correlates with the “deep learning” contextualisation I was so worried about in my previous post.


What a great “edu-speak” term!! Will have to try to bring that one out at the next parent teacher interviews!!

Coined by our friend Biggs (1999) who I am gathering is a pretty “big wig” in the educational   sphere!! Ask the question: What knowledge do I want my students to apply by the end of the course?? Align the three important components of education – learning OUTCOMES, teaching (and learning) STRATEGIES and ASSESSMENT tasks


  1. Rationale – why are we bothering to learn it in the first place?
  2. Learning outcomes – use SMART goals in the rehab parlance, equate it to the LEVEL of understanding
  3. Learning and teaching activities    – scaffold towards the learning outcomes
  4. Assessments  – which guide towards the outcomes
  5. Feedback – usually the “after thought” but probably the most important part!!!  – assist students to progress towards the learning outcomes….if they didn’t get it the first time, doesn’t mean we should throw the baby out with the bathwater….emphasises the importance of being lifelong learners!!


 A useful visual on how the learning strategies and the assessment tasks lead to the outcomes


Specify the knowledge and skills to be acquired by the end / How do you want students to be different at the end / use of SMART goals – usually one of three things:

  • Factual knowledge / comprehension
  • Professional knowledge

Skills and abilities / what can they DO


What a great edu-speak word TAXONOMY! Love it! Also love the structure of this table. Fits with my need for order and organisation!!


  1. Factual
  2. Conceptual
  3. Procedural
  4. Meta-cognitive


  1. Remember
  2. Understand
  3. Apply
  4. Analyse
  5. Evaluate
  6. Create


Gotta love a useful acronym!!


  1. RESOURCES (as the name suggests but also lectures);
  2. ACTIVITIES – stuff the students do to apply the knowledge
  3. SUPPORT (FAQ, fora, email, social media);
  4. EVALUATE (portfolia, presentations)


Valid and authentic tasks; front end them to make them useful. Mist go hand in hand with MEANINGFUL FEEDBACK. I think this is often where we fall down!

WOW what a whirlwind journey through the key tourist spots of Educational Design! !

Flipping out with the Flipped Classroom! FULT Module 2


Not a term I had ever come across before I watched the video prior to the session. At first, I thought it was perhaps some “woo woo” “Edu-speak”!

After watching the video, I am pleased to report that I like the concept of the “flipped classroom! What”s more, I think that I will use it, and even better than that, I think it will make my life as a medical student teacher easier!  And even better than that (yes, I know, a few too many superlatives here….), it will probably improve the outcomes for my students, and ultimately for their future patients. Win, win, win, win!!


Basically, it turns class time from teaching time, to learning and practical application of the concepts, bringing the onus on the student to go through the material prior to the session. I guess, pre-reading on steroids!


  1. Pre-record material – reduces it from 50 min to between 12 and 24 minutes – I wonder what quality of video would be required? Would need to work out how to incorporate diagrams into the video. I reckon I could encourage my tech savvy ten year old son Max to assist with this….if he can work out how to incorporate how he plays certain games into his YouTube videos with his voice over the top, I am sure he could help me with this! Or perhaps the university may subsidise the recording of a video…..I reckon most students would be ok with watching a video before hand. It has certainly worked well for this course!! And they can do it any where, any time, oh the wonders of modern technology!
  2. Start of the session – open book quiz – this would certainly hopefully increase the compliance with “pre-watching”. The risk is that if they haven’t bothered to watch the video beforehand then they may waste everyone’s time during the session. There must be some way to ensure that watching the lecture precedes attending the session. A quiz is a great ides, I wonder what other ways there are.
  3. There are two discussion questions during the session, and students are broken up into small groups and roles are assigned. The tasks are designed to challenge creative / critical thinking. The facilitator circulates during this time
  4. The facilitator pre-selects a few groups to come up and present – how is this done? What are the parameters? What about those who think that presenting is a near death experience either because the come from a NESB / CALD or because of performance anxiety. I wonder how the “threat” of presenting may affect the student’s motivation in the class. Yes it would motivate, but in the right way?
  5. At the end of the time, the attention is brought back to the front. The lecturer photographs all of the responses which are placed on “response boards” but really it could be done in any format.
  6. The selected few do their presentations which are recorded and forms an “artefact of learning” (Gotta love these edu-speak terms I am learning!!!)
  7. This process is done again for a second mini-project
  8. There is time for questions at the end – when I have had to give lectures to Phase 1 med (?400 students) it has always fascinated me how the few who straggle up the front to ask questions self-select? Is it through pity for the lecturer? Are they the ones who always ask questions? Are they ones with the excellent knowledge anyway who really probably aren’t the ones who need to be asking questions?!?


University of Notre Dame – giving the same Rehab spiel twice a week is getting a little passe. I could see that pre-recording a video of the spiel I usually give could not only free up some time for me (if I am busy, they can watch it on one of our ipads) but will also give some more time for patient history taking.


Please click on the Flipped Classroom Lesson Plan Template – Rehab placement for the Flipped Lesson Plan for utilising the Flipped lesson Plan” for teaching of Rehabilitation concepts to second year medical students at Notre Dame (this will be included in the E-Portfolio at the end of the FULT course) .


Write a reflection in your e-portfolio on the potential benefits and challenges of flipped classroom in your own teaching context drawing from the ideas in this module’s video, your discussions in class, your own perspectives, and the comments from today’s panelists.

How do we learn?? Dr David Perkins Video –  Foundations of University Learning and Teaching Module 1 


As part of the follow up activities after the first Face to face Teaching, we watched a video by Professor David Perkins from Harvard. While the video was only a couple of minutes in length, in his humble and likeable way, he really communicated that key issues of how students should learn! No mean feat in a 169 second youtube video!

You can view the video here

Professor Perkins really brought the concepts of the “deep” versus the “superficial” learner to life and brought these concepts to life for me, especially as it relates to my work as a medical educator for Medical Students and for Advanced Trainees in Rehabilitation Medicine. While he didn’t use the terms we learnt in class of “deep and superficial” learners (ref Biggs 1999), this is clearly what he was discussing.

He asked the question “What’s worth learning?” This is such a great question! Medical students and specialist trainees really can’t learning EVERYTHING!

Instead, we really want to train students in HOW to think. Because, in reality, the content that they learn how will be so different in five or ten years time! When I was a medical student, just as one example, we were taught that the brain’s capacity once we reached adulthood was finite, and once cognitive functions were lost for whatever reason like after stroke or brain injury or from too much drinking ,that was it! All over red rover! But now, neuroplasticity dictates much of my practice as a Rehabilitation Physician.

How to incorporate the acceptance of this one paradigm shift into educational learning? Teach students how to maintain up to date knowledge in up to date medical literature, in how to critically evaluate the research as it comes to light. Teach students how to incorporate that new knowledge into their practice as a doctors.

This is what Professor Perkins referred to as “understanding for wide scope” – learning how to learn despite shifting landscapes of medical practice!

The concept that I struggle with this whole deep versus superficial learning thing is it that the students really do need to have a core foundation of knowledge which appears as “superficial” learning on which to build deep learning.

Without the core basic sciences knowledge in medicine (anatomy, physiology, pathology and so forth), building the enriched mansion of an holistic medical practitioner above that foundation is fraught with danger, and the mansion, while it appears beautiful, is inherently fragile as the mansion is not rooted in solid foundational knowledge. I think that there is a risk of going too far to the “deep” side and that there needs to be a balance between the two. This is one of the issues that I see with some of the more truncated medical school programs which appear in my outsider’s view to focus too much on the “deep” without the foundation (of so-called “superficial” knowledge).

If we accept that we need a core of “superficial” learning as the base of our medical mansion of holistic medical practice, how can students be motivated to learn “suerficially”? This is relevant both to medical students as well as to specialist trainees who must pass a “basic knowledge” assessment or two.

I think that the thing that will help trainees though in achieving this balance and keeping them interested and engaged while they do learn the requisite foundational “superficial” fact based knowledge is to engage them with the reason WHY they are learning it. Otherwise, yes they will park the lists of the branches of the brachial plexus into their short term memory bank and it will never be encoded into long term memories from which they can call upon comes to applying this knowledge when they have an injured motor cyclist with a near flaccid arm in front of them!

So engaging them with an enriched perspective of the “mansion” that they are working towards, and getting them excited about that mansion, and really wanting to build that beautiful purposeful mansion will be what will engage them with the “hard slog” of acquiring that foundational knowledge.

Professor Perkins referred to encouraging a situation where the “discipline looks outside of itself”.

I really like this concept, and I think that it is relevant to medicine very much so because we have patients who live in the real world and who have motivators which are usually quite different from our narrowed medical goals. Patients want to be able to get well so that they can look after their kids, so they can get back to work, so that they can have the energy and motivation to walk the dog. Therefore, viewing medicine from the perspective of the patient is essential. This is core to my practice as a doctor. I guess that my approach to engendering this in my students and trainees is through modelling, though I would be interested to know if there is another way of doing this – of giving students and trainees a taste, a vision of the big picture and inspiring them in that!

What I am not sure of is how we can design our programs with assessing for deep learning and incorporating these elements in the curriculum, which, as Professor Perkins indicates is “resistant to change”. I would really like to work on understanding know how achieve this in the educational activities I am involved with. Also, how to we assess for the necessary foundational “superficial” knowledge while keeping our eyes on the beautiful mansion that it is the foundation for.

I will keep these questions front and centre of mind as we move through to the coming modules.

PS – it was great to learnt how to use a new piece of technology – a video annotation tool!

Week 1 FULT – Foundations of University Teaching and Learning

Foundations of University Learning and Teaching Day 1 – – Overview and Student Learning 

I am writing this post after the first session of the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Foundations of University Learning and Teaching program – the first formal education training that I have done!.

Why FULT? 

The origin of the word “doctor” in Latin is “teacher”. This is certain the philosophy to which I adhere in my practice as a Rehabilitation Physician – empowering patient’s to lead their own recovery or maximisation of function. The vast majority of doctors, especially those who work with other doctors, either in private practice, or in a hospital setting will also be involved with teaching of colleagues to a variable extent.

This is certainly true for me, and increasingly so over the years! My first experiences with teaching at a university level were when I was myself a tutor in biostatistics at Monash University during the time when I was doing my honours year. The thing that I learnt from that experience was (other than the epidemiology of prostate cancer) that the benefits of teaching are quite profound for the teacher. There is the old adage of “See one. Do One. Teach one” in medicine, but even more than that, I found that not only did I experience great satisfaction in the “Aha” moments of the students, but I also had a much more rich understanding of the  subject material, and also that the student, through their questioning, also added greater depth to my own understanding.

Since then, I have done tutoring of medical students as a registrar, and more recently as a consultant, I have+++ been the clinical supervisor for a range of trainees, with the role as a combination of mentor and teacher.

I also fell into the role of coordinating the specialist written examination paper for the Rehabilitation Faculty of the Australasian College of Physicians about 4 years ago, without any formal training or background in education.l I learnt as I went, but always had a niggling nervousness that the exams I was coordinating the setting of were not supported by a strong (or any) personal educational foundation.

More recently still, when my job at the public Hospital in which I work was threatened due to potential funding costs, I was encouraged by the Director of the Service for which I work to apply for the “Coordinator of Education” role at the AFRM (Australasian Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine). Very surprisingly to me, I was successful in being appointed to the position which involved reviewing the training program for Specialists in Rehabilitation Medicine, and reviewing a possible structural change to the training program. I had the honour of working with an “educationalist” (a term I had never even heard of previously!) in this process who did a curriculum mapping exercise between our current curriculum and that of the program we were considering moving over to.  Again, in doing this work, I felt like a bit of a “fraud” and experienced the “impostor  syndrome”.

So, all of these things prompted me to look at further higher education in Education….I looked to enroll in a Masters of Higher Education after being encouraged to do so by Professor Andrew Cole, but soon found out that, without having an undergraduate degree in education, there were a series of hoops I first needed to jump through, each dependent on the previous action, and the first in that process is doing the FULT program!

Overall thoughts after Day 1 

  • Relieved: pleased to have sat with some peers on the day with whom I had something in common (that fear of being the “new kid in the class” and not knowing anyone was soon ameliorate!)
  • Impressed: by the range and depth of educational experience in the room Also impressed at the organisation of the program and the passion of the organisers
  • Intrigued: at the parallels between reflective practice which is increasingly strongly encouraged in the specialist training domain, and clearly also in the educational domain – there ain’t much difference in the concepts underlying excellence and professionalism in our various professions.
  • Nervous: about the depth of personal digging required in the program. Sometimes looking at your own deficiencies can be someone confronting. Good to bite the bullet though and look at the big picture and the goal wowards which you are working, which, for me, is to become a better teacher
  • Excited: about the months ahead and the topic material covered, especially as it will help me in my role as a teacher of trainee specialists, and as it will improve the quality of my education work for the College. Also excited about the potential to take this learning to the next level next year.


In the session, we spoke a little about using “ice breakers” at the start of a teaching encounter. This got me thinking about a situation where thinking quite hard about the initial segment of a teaching encounter may affect the learning experiences of the students

I am the clinical tutor for a period of four weeks for students going through a rotation termed “Ageings and endings” which incorporates teaching in geriatrics and Rehabilitation Medicine. These students number about 15 and hale from the university at which the FULT is taught. They have two sessions of two hours per week with me and we go through cases associated with the “plat du semaine”. My next such group is coming up in May.

I have had variable experiences with students, some highly engaged and others, well quite the opposite. I am loath to admit that it sometimes comes down the ethnic mix of the group. In the past, I may have made a subconscious  judgement  about this, but after a recent talk on “vulnerability” in the clinical setting, it makes me realise that such students may in fact have a degree of vulnerability and that I need to adjust my teaching accordingly, lest I contribute to the greater vulnerability potentially for poorer learning outcomes.

What I took away from this discussion about ice-breakers is that I need to thoughtfully plan for the “ice breaker” section of the course with my upcoming students so that there is decent connection and so that I don’t inadvertently contribute to a negative learning experience.

Good Learning experiences 

The discussion about good and bad learning experiences I think most relates to that tutorial group that I take as described above. The key themes which came up from the butcher paper exercise which resonated with me are listed below.

  • Engagement: how can I get the students to engaged with learning – I think that the early “hook” is critical here, and also to know the students and their interests so that the relevance of understanding about geriatric medicine is made clear to them for whatever specialty of medicine they should ultimately choose to pursue.
  • A comment was made: “the activities need to be congruent to the learning outcomes, the students and the topics.”  – again this emphasises to me that I need to know what the students’goals are for the block, and also that I need to go back to the formally stated learning objectives for the block so that I can tailor my teaching accordingly and ensure that I cover these areas.
  • Well prepared: while I have prepared notes etc in the past for students going through this term, I should really review and update them.
What makes good and bad learning experiences?
What makes good and bad learning experiences?

Graduate capabilities 

There was a discussion about the UNSW graduate capabilities. I thought about these in relation to the teaching that I do with UNSW medical students, but also with my teaching with Notre Dame students (UND). I have two UND students twice a week coming through the Rehabilitation Day Hospital each week. Although there is no current “Rehabilitaiton Medicine curriculum” in their curriculum (** and this is something I need to discuss further with the university). I have come up with my own “graduate capabilities” for their placement. IO now outline this at the beginning and review the outcomes after the session via a “Survey Monkey” questionnaire which I have produced. Talking through these topics in FULT has helped me to grasp thee WHY of doing this.

Student Centred Learning 

I really connected with the notion of a bi-directional learning approach. It fits very well with my notion of many things in life, including my role as a doctor. I am glad that this is backed up by learning theory!

SUPERFICIAL versus DEEP learners 

I found this a very interesting section of the day’s teaching. It encouraged me to go the somewhat “anxiety-provoking” exercise of inward reflection.

When I went through medical school, I think that I was very much a superficial learner. I am wondering now though how much of that was the “me” factor, and how much of it was how we were taught and especially how we were assessed. Being a superficial thinker was quite safe, you knew (hopefully) what was coming, and you knew what you had to do to achieve. It was predictable and reassuring.

It’s funn, my husband often says that I don’t cope too well when things don’t go as expected. I think that he is quite true. This is something that we are working on developing in our three young children (aged 10, 9 and 3). It is something which will be strongly challenged when we travel overseas in July to September this year. Simon thinks that the unpredictability and variance from routine may be too much for them (we aseptically discuss their limited nutritional repertoire). I hope though that it will be “sink or swim” and that, though parental guidance, they will swim./,…..a spoonful of Vegemite can make many unfamiliar things palatable!!

The area of specialty has forced me to become a deep thinker and a deep learner. I think too that it is something which comes with life experience too. Good and bad learning experiences are related to a combination of student and teacher attributes.

This activity highlighted to me that the the DEEP versus SUPERFICIAL learning attributes are as much affected by the teacher as by the student. I will and certainly do try to encourage “Deep” thinking in my students. Where I do this now, I am actually surprised that the trainees respond well to it and seem to get a lot out of it.

Roll on module 2!!