Anne Fensie, an Instructional Designer of University College, has been leading a Book Club discussion on "Make it Stick: The Science of Successful Learning" over the past several months on the UMA Augusta campus. Faculty book club members meet once a month online via Zoom to talk about the book and how to apply its ideas to our own teaching. It's an easy and interesting read.
The authors offer simple techniques based on current cognitive science that promise to help students learn material more deeply and "make it stick." As we all know, cramming doesn't work; nor does reading text over and over again. So how do we help students stay interested and engaged while building their learning competencies? How do we learn new material? How do we learn to apply and adapt it quickly and competently? In a nutshell, the authors advocate retrieval, mixing up practice, interleaving older concepts with new ones, allowing some time to forget before reintroducing the concept, embracing difficulty, and avoiding the illusion of knowing. All these techniques contribute to long-term memory.
Sharing the book with other faculty is a wonderful way to learn new teaching skills. I have discovered that we all use at least some of these techniques. The challenge is to use them all consistently in all our courses, live and online, to reinforce what our students learn. The book club brings us together socially to share our thoughts on how we teach. I always look forward to learning the creative ways in which my colleagues are implementing the concepts from the book. As this edition of the UC Lunch & Learn Book Club is winding down for the year, I want to express my gratitude to Anne and my colleagues for sharing. I hope we can continue building the Book Club next year to include colleagues at our sister colleges. It's worth the effort!