In praise of…. Conclusions

I love the Southern California pier culture.  Walking to the end of the pier is a journey with a clear finish, a satisfying conclusion.  How many of my lectures can I say the same thing about?

How do you know when you’ve reached the end of the lecture?  Is it as simple as being out of time?  In the academic context, the default way of knowing when we’re “done” is when the students start packing up to leave.  But is this the best way to enhance learning?

There is an old adage in the field of homiletics: “Tell ’em what you’re going to tell ’em, tell ’em, and tell ’em what you told ’em.” It’s the third part of this equation that I want to highlight today.

Reframing the content from the day’s lecture in the final five minutes can help the students answer three key questions:

1. What did the professor expect me to learn today? Though repetition of key words and concepts, the student can understand what they should have learned that day.  This will not be a replacement of the lecture, but a brief diagnostic for the student.

2. What was today about? Sometimes even the most enthusiastic students lose the forest for the trees.  Having a clear period at the end of the lecture that keeps the main thing the main thing can clarify what this lecture was about.

3. What do I think about this? A good psychotherapist will have a brief, five minute emotional wind-down at the end of each session, giving the client an opportunity to emotionally “pack-up” before leaving.  While few of our courses are as emotional as a therapy session, giving students a few minutes to pack the ideas away before being dumped back into the cacophony of a college hallway will aid in their digestion of the idea we just presented.

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