Question: I often struggle to strike a balance between student learning goals for disciplinary content and learning goals for transferring processes to future situations. Don’t students have to know content before they can learn processes like critical thinking?
CITL’s Answer: Your question is one we all face for courses at all levels. If students are going to think critically, for example, they do need something to think about – content! But, often there is so much content, it would be impossible to expect students to retain it all. DiCarlo and Lujan made recommendations that make sense. They noted that information changes so rapidly, the answers to questions today may be the wrong answers tomorrow. Learning is not always about committing facts to memory, but rather about learning how to find, evaluate, apply, and use information. They recommended that faculty reduce the amount of content presentation in class and replace that time with a focus on active learning pedagogies that will enable students to learn and practice the processes that can be transferred into life after college. The content will be there, ready and waiting for the processes. E-mail Karen_StClair@emerson.edu for the DiCarlo and Lujan references.